ShoreTel Brings UC Apps to Smartphones Via the Cloud

The new capabilities will enable businesses to better handle BYOD and other trends while allowing employees to use a single device for both personal and professional calls.

ShoreTel is bringing its unified communications applications to the mobile world, leveraging the capabilities it gained in acquisitions of Agito Networks in 2010 and M5 Networks earlier this year.

ShoreTel executives for the past couple of years have been pushing to extend the company€™s unified communications (UC) solutions into the mobile space and into the cloud. Now the company is enabling its cloud-based customers to leverage its ShoreTel Mobility voice and UC applications on mobile devices, starting with Apple iPhones.

Support for other mobile devices€”including BlackBerry phones from Research In Motion and devices running Google€™s Android mobile operating system€”will follow this summer, according to ShoreTel officials.

With such trends as bring your own device (BYOD) and an increasing mobile workforce ramping up in the enterprise, employees increasingly are looking for ways to use their own personal mobile devices for work. Businesses are looking to take advantage of the BYOD push to increase employee productivity, though IT departments are concerned about the management and security issues surrounding personal devices gaining access to corporate data and networks.

Extending the ShoreTel Mobility capabilities to mobile devices via the cloud is good for both the employee and the business, according to Dan Hoffman, president of ShoreTel€™s Cloud Division.

"The way people work has changed,€ Hoffman said in a statement. €œInstead of fighting the trends of mobility and bring your own device, we are empowering our clients to embrace them by extending our cloud phone system capabilities to the device that users love the most€”their own. The solution represents a win-win, giving our customers the ease of using the device that is already in their pocket and giving the enterprise a way to reduce costs, while maintaining a consistent corporate identity and caller experience."

According to ShoreTel executives, employees will be able to use their own devices for both personal communications and for business while keeping a separate identity for each. The same device will have a business phone number and a personal one, letting the user maintain their business identity while enabling the employee to keep control of the contact information. Users can see whether a call to the mobile device is a personal call or work-related.

In addition, leveraging the ShoreTel UC applications is designed to be easy. For example, users won€™t need to learn a new interface to access desk phones or UC applications on their iPhones. ShoreTel Mobility also will automatically select the best available network, whether it€™s cellular or WiFi, and connect without the user having to do anything.

Users going through ShoreTel€™s M5 cloud will be able to take advantage of the same applications that they can access through business phones, including call transfer and four-digit dialing.

IT managers get visibility into workers€™ complete call history€”not only from desk phones, but also business calls made to the mobile device.

When ShoreTel officials announced the $11.4 million deal to buy Agito in 2010, they said the move would enable business customers to use their smartphones as PBX phones, allowing them to be more mobile. Agito€™s business was about helping businesses make their UC and voice applications available on smartphones.

M5 Networks, which ShoreTel bought in February for $146 million, offered a suite of hosted UC products. ShoreTel made M5 its cloud division.