ShoreTel Readies Its UC Common Platform for April Launch
Most UC vendors, including market leaders Cisco Systems and Microsoft, have a mix of on-premises and cloud-based solutions, but they tend to be separate offerings, with somewhat different capabilities, Kerravala said. Businesses are looking for hybrid products that give them the same experience whether they're using on-premises or cloud solutions. Cisco, Microsoft and others are moving in that direction, but ShoreTel will be the first to offer a true common platform, he said. During a conference call in October to discuss third-quarter financial numbers, ShoreTel CEO Don Joos said development of the common platform—which went into the alpha phase in December—was happening quickly and that it would be launched in April, ahead of schedule. ShoreTel hosts its partner conference that month. Creating a single experience for both on-premises and cloud customers has held its share of technical hurdles, Roberts said. However, just as challenging was the internal work ShoreTel has had to do training employees to market and sell the new common platform and readying its internal systems for the change. ShoreTel also is working with channel partners to get them familiar with the common platform and what they can offer to customers.ShoreTel also will see its revenue streams continue to change. For most of its history, the company was paid upfront for its communications products and services. However, the trend toward the cloud will increase the amount of recurring revenues the company takes in. During the conference call in October, Joos said he expects that ShoreTel will see revenues from hosted services grow rapidly and for that recurring revenue to grab an increasingly larger share of overall revenues. In the third quarter last year, hosted revenues grew 20 percent and recurring revenue jumped 17 percent. Recurring revenues now account for 39 percent of ShoreTel's overall revenues, the CEO said. Kerravala said that going forward, ShoreTel's challenge will be in sales, marketing ad working with channel partners. . For channel partners, the compensation model and selling a cloud-based offering is different. Partners won't be selling the cloud, but selling solutions, he said. "For ShoreTel, it's not a product issue now," Kerravala said. "It's a go-to-market issue." Joos said the company has been working both internally and with the channel to get ready for the common platform. "We will enable our go-to-market teams and channel partners to support a unified toolset in a common support structure regardless of the customers' choice of deployment model," he said in October. "Essentially, we are migrating to be a company that is even easier to do business with."
"It's not just the product that has to change," Roberts said.