ShoreTel Rolls Out Virtual UC Offering

ShoreTel 14.2 will enable organizations to run the vendor's UC solutions in virtualized environments.

ShoreTel, which has been aggressively enabling organizations to use its unified communications solutions, either on premises or in the cloud, now is enabling customers to deploy them in a virtualized environment.

The company is launching ShoreTel 14.2, which is designed to let companies deploy their unified communications (UC) solutions in the way that best suits their environments, according to ShoreTel officials. The new offering can be used in a hardware-based model, entirely within a virtualized environment, or in a combination of both.

However, it's deployed, the ShoreTel offering can be managed via a single Web-based interface, company officials said.

ShoreTel for years sold on-premises communications technology, but in a bow to the growing cloud computing trend, it bought M5 Networks in 2012 for $146 million. The move gave ShoreTel the ability to offer cloud-based UC solutions—such as ShoreTel Mobility, Conferencing and Contact Center—which it started doing in November 2012 under the ShoreTel Sky designation.

Last year, the company began testing ShoreTel Connect, a hybrid premises-to-cloud UC offering.

Now company officials are giving a nod to the increasing virtualization of data center servers at businesses of all sizes, and said they want to offer a UC solution that can take advantage of the trend. ShoreTel 14.2 is available now.

"The time is now to take advantage of virtualization for unified communications—the infrastructure is in place, the market is ready, the channel is knowledgeable, and customers are clamoring to virtualize their PBX and entire communications platform," Pej Roshan, vice president of product management at ShoreTel, said in a statement. "Virtualization complements our distributed architecture and allows customers to benefit from virtualization features and ShoreTel’s inherent N+1 redundancy to deliver high availability at the lowest cost. In addition, virtualization sets the foundation for customers to consume VOIP [voice over IP] services via on-premises, hybrid, and cloud deployment models."

With ShoreTel 14.2, all UC components, from call control to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks to collaboration applications, can be virtualized and run on industry-standard servers, officials said. Customers also will see greater scalability, with the solution quadrupling port capacity per appliance. ShoreTel's virtual switches support up to 1,000 phones and 500 SIP trunks.

UC continues to draw interest from businesses, but hasn't taken off as quickly as some had expected. IDC analysts last year said they expect the market to grow to more than $38 billion by 2016. Some analysts say such trends as greater workforce mobility, cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) will help fuel that growth.