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ShoreTel Enhances UC Integration With Skype for Business

The company is offering a plug-in that will enable customers to get ShoreTel telephony features while using Microsoft's UC technology.

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ShoreTel is making it easier for customers who use the company's phone system to use Microsoft's Skype for Business in their communications.

The company on March 29 introduced ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft, a new plug-in that embeds ShoreTel telephony controls inside the Skype for Business client. Through the plug-in, users will be able to use a lot of those controls directly through the Skype for Business client, from directly dialing contacts and running conference calls to transferring calls, accessing voicemail boxes, viewing and setting presence information, and routing calls.

The new offering, which is aimed at enterprises and the midmarket, will give ShoreTel customers tools they're familiar with when using the Skype for Business client, and a path toward using the company's own Connect unified communications (UC) client, according to Eugenia Corrales, vice president of product at ShoreTel.

"We recognize that some ShoreTel customers will use Skype for Business, so this new plug-in provides the power of ShoreTel telephony features inside that client, ensuring users have an easy, seamless experience," Corrales said in a statement. "We also offer future flexibility, giving customers the option to move to the ShoreTel Connect client when they are ready to harness the full collaborative power of ShoreTel Connect."

ShoreTel officials over the past year have rolled out the company's Connect UC offering, with its key feature being a common platform for both its on-premises and cloud-based technologies. The company last year unveiled Connect OnSite, the on-premises solution, and Connect Cloud, the UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) offering. In February, ShoreTel officials rolled out Connect Hybrid Sites, enabling customers to mix and match the UC services and applications they use across multiple sites.

The idea of hybrid UC is gaining traction in the market, according to some analysts. IHS Infonetics analysts last year said that more than half of the respondents in a survey said that by 2016, they will be running at least some of their UC services over private or public clouds.

ShoreTel officials said the new Skype for Business plug-in integrates on the client side, so there is no additional work for IT departments. ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft supports Lync 2013, Skype for Business 2015 and Skype for Business 2016 clients in both Office 365 and on-premises environments. The plug-in is part of the midtier bundle for ShoreTel's Connect Cloud and Connect OnSite, they said.