To give pioneering IP telephony users more bang for their buck, and to give those still hesitating a smoother way to migrate to the convergence frontier, ShoreTel Inc. next month will add new flexibility to its calling architecture.
ShoreTel5 Release2 will come with a group paging feature and a "whisper page" option that lets receptionists unobtrusively alert employees of urgent incoming calls. Receptionists will be able to break into conversations and speak with colleagues without being heard by inbound callers.
The upcoming release will also let network managers identify callers by group, separating outbound caller ID information from a phones identification number. Calls placed by several employees in a group will display a single identification so that returned calls will go to anyone in the group.
The Oregon Community Health Information Network, in Portland, had the opportunity to deploy an IP system from scratch when it moved to new offices a year ago. After evaluating equipment from the major vendors and narrowing the choices to Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd. and ShoreTel, Chief Technology Officer Paul Matthews chose ShoreTel for its built-in reporting capabilities, its price and its nonproprietary voice mail options.
"We could pick any phone system we wanted," said Matthews, whose organization operates as an ASP (application service provider) for rural clinics and community health centers across the state. "This was probably the quickest installation Ive ever done."
Deploying and managing the converged network has not been difficult, Matthews said. With a work force of 50 and an IT staff of two, the organization benefits greatly from its ability to remotely manage and configure desktop equipment.
The ability to separate outbound caller ID data from a phones identification number will be useful because OCHIN needs to route incoming calls according to profit center, Matthews said. With the new release, which is free to current ShoreTel customers, incoming calls about billing will go directly to the billing team.
Priding itself on the manageability of its products and ease of use of its applications, ShoreTel is making it easier to integrate IP telephony into a legacy telephone environment, enabling its voice mail system to operate with most traditional PBXes.
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