ShoreTel Brings Network Services to Cloud UC Customers

The services will be the same as those offered to on-premises users, and come as ShoreTel prepares to launch its common UC platform next month.

cloud communications

ShoreTel, which is expected to launch its common communications platform next month, is bringing its network services offerings to its cloud-based customers.

The company first began offering network services to customers that use its unified communications (UC) products on-premises in the fall of 2013. Now ShoreTel is making those same services available to organizations using its ShoreTel Sky cloud-based communications technologies. Those services range from network design validation and voice-over-IP (VoIP) readiness assessment to network delivery and network diagnosis.

These services have been embraced by those on-premises users, and now those using cloud communications products will have the same services, according to Bharath Oruganti, senior vice president of services and operations at ShoreTel.

"We’ve seen tremendous demand for these services from premises customers and ShoreTel Sky customers have been equally vocal," Oruganti said in a statement. "Together with the expertise of our channel partners and these additional data networking services, we further enable brilliantly simple communications for cloud users."

The services move by ShoreTel comes as the company prepares to announce its common platform, which will enable customers to access the same services via the cloud or on-premises technology and embrace a true hybrid UC environment. Like many in the UC space, ShoreTel built its business through selling communications hardware that organizations deployed within the walls of their business. ShoreTel extended its capabilities into the cloud with the $146 million acquisition of M5 Networks.

According to ShoreTel officials, the company has spent the past two years developing a common platform, which not only will enable businesses to deploy the same set of applications and capabilities in on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment, but it also will make it easier for ShoreTel's 3.5 million on-premises customers to migrate to the cloud at their own pace.

According to ShoreTel Chief Marketing Officer Mark Roberts, being able to embrace a hybrid UC environment will be increasingly important for businesses as their workforces become more mobile and employees bring their own devices—from smartphones to tablets to laptops—into the work environment. Those employees also are demanding that the collaboration technology they use at work have the same ease of use that they experience in such consumer platforms as Skype.

"We saw the need for … one common user experience and one common set of clients," Roberts said during an interview earlier this year with eWEEK.

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, has been a proponent of ShoreTel's common platform, saying it will address the growing demand from businesses for greater flexibility in their UC environments. Kerravala told eWEEK earlier this year that, according to his research, 82 percent of companies want some kind of hybrid cloud solution for their communications.

"Not everything is moving to the cloud, and not everything is staying on premises," he said, noting that with a common platform like ShoreTel's, "companies can deploy the right tool to their workers."

Kerravala said most vendors in the UC space have both on-premises and cloud-based offerings, though they tend to be separate platforms. That said, companies like Cisco Systems and Microsoft are moving toward offering a full hybrid platform, though they are behind ShoreTel in this area, Kerravala said.