As expected ShoreTel announced Monday the general availability of the first ShoreTel phone sets designed for use with the company's cloud UC service ShoreTel Sky. The company debuted the phones for its channel partners last month at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
The ShoreTel 400 series IP phones for ShoreTel Sky enable tighter integrations between the phone and the cloud applications, easier firmware upgrades and faster feature rollouts, according to Bernard Gutnick, senior director of product marketing at ShoreTel, in an interview with Channel Partners.
The phones, for example, have a built-in softkey that connects directly to the ShoreTel support team, said Randa Green, senior manager, product management for the Sky Platform. The user interface also mirrors the ShoreTel Sky management portal, so that for instance the call forwarding screens are the same, she added.
Previously, ShoreTel Sky was delivered solely using third-party phones from Cisco, Polycom and others. ShoreTel Sky is the cloud division formed from ShoreTel's acquisition of M5 Networks in spring 2012. Customers still have the option of using these third-party devices, leveraging an installed base, for example.
The ShoreTel 400 series phones for ShoreTel Sky are available in three models – IP480, IP480G, and IP485G – ranging from a basic phone to a more advanced backlit, color display phone for executives. The 400 series phones feature high-quality sound; multiple line appearances; easy-to-read display; and quick access to features, including voice mail, directories and conferencing.
The 400 series phones were first released for ShoreTel's premises-based UC solution in November 2013.
That means that the 400 series is ideal for customers who are migrating to a cloud platform or those that want to run a hybrid environment with, for example, a premises-based system at headquarters and a cloud solution at the branch offices.
ShoreTel Sky partners have been selling the 400 series phones as part of a beta test, but this week they are available to all customers.
Green said partners can purchase the phones at a discount and markup, or they can sell them as part of a rental agreement along with the cloud subscription.
Channel partners can now provide an end-to-end ShoreTel cloud-based solution that includes IP phones, implementation, dedicated account team, custom configuration, phone numbers, private circuits to the ShoreTel data center and end user training.
Partners that sell circuits can continue to do so under existing agreements with service providers, Green said.