ShoreTel in Win-Win Situation With Celtics-Nets Game

The NBA contest enabled ShoreTel to tout its on-premises and cloud-based UC solutions, and its acquisition of M5 Networks.

BOSTON — For ShoreTel executives here Nov. 28, the game between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets was a no-lose affair.

On one side were the Celtics, who this year took advantage of their decision to renovate and expand their corporate headquarters in the city to install an on-premises unified communications (UC) solution from ShoreTel, a move that Jay Wessel, vice president of technology for the NBA team, had been contemplating for as long as five years.

On the other side were the Nets, who saw a move of their headquarters from New Jersey to Brooklyn earlier this year as an opportunity to deploy a cloud-based UC system from ShoreTel, which Mireille Viau Verna, senior director of IT for the team, said helped keep the organization's communications up and running during Superstorm Sandy in October.

The game also gave ShoreTel officials the chance to tout their decision in February to buy M5 Networks for $146 million, which enabled the company to offer cloud-based solutions to complement its premises-based products.

"It's at events like this that whoever wins, ShoreTel wins," Peter Blackmore, the company's CEO and president, said to a group of journalists just before the game began here at the TD Garden.

There is growing interest in cloud-based UC solutions, Blackmore told eWEEK. He said that currently, about 20 percent of UC deployments leverage the cloud, with the other 80 percent being on-premises solutions. However, by 2015, the percentage of cloud solutions will grow to 42 percent, and will only continue to climb. That fueled ShoreTel's interest in being able to offer a cloud-based solution, and it made more sense to buy a company with those capabilities than to try to develop it in-house, Blackmore said.

ShoreTel looked at a host of companies, eventually whittling the list down to M5, a 12-year-old company based in New York City that Blackmore said had the right combination of solutions and a corporate culture that made it a good fit.

Dan Hoffman, the former CEO of M5 and now president and general manager of ShoreTel's cloud division—ShoreTel Sky—said the merger enabled him to take his two-dozen or so engineers and combine them with the more than 200 that ShoreTel already had. In addition, it gives the combined company the kind of dual expertise in on-premises and cloud-based solutions that differentiates ShoreTel from its competitors.