ShoreTel Enhances Unified Communications Tool

As part of a wave of recent product announcements, VoIP vendor ShoreTel has introduced the latest version of its unified communications application. As with its Contact Center 6 release two days ago, the company is focusing on three main themes; improving flexibility and user control, enabling greater integration, and scaling up the solution beyond the SMB market to businesses of 5,000-10,000 seats.

ShoreTel sells all products through its channel partners, who have been asking the company to extend its UC functionality with more features and capacity while minimizing the price. Mission accomplished on that score: Current customers under a company support contract receive the upgrade free.

ShoreTel 11, or the Communicator as its called (previous versions were dubbed the Call Manager), extends the companys UC feature set with support for iPhones (available as a free download from the iTunes App Store) as well as Blackberrys and other select mobile phones, extending business communications access to mobile workers in the field. Another major enhancement is a distributed database that mirrors the companys distributed IP PBX architecture, so that these can be deployed at multiple sites to offset potential performance bottlenecks and network outages. The Communicator also supports QSIG, an ISDN protocol that enables signaling and private messaging between multiple PBXs, whether TDM to IP or IP to IP, allowing customers to migrate from their existing system to the Communicator at their own pace.

Where earlier incarnations of the Communicator performed all UC functions through a UM client, version 11 is now Web-enabled for password-protected access over any OS. Users can customize their communications preferences, while network administrators maintain higher control of messaging policies and access to business apps through the Director.

Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies to social service agencies, so ensuring highly responsive and flexible service is vital to the success of our business, said Andrew Holowka, senior IT, Center for Applied Research. ShoreTel 11 enables our Mac users to effectively communicate with our servers, providing our consultants with even more collaboration options and powerful communications tools. As we continue to deploy more features, were looking forward to taking advantage of the mobile support for the iPhone, which is something our users are already very excited about.

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