ShoreTel says the new virtualized router will let their VARs be more aggressive in small 5-15 unit mobile deployments, because eliminating the router cost for a 10 unit deployment cuts the initial investment in getting 10 users live by two thirds.
ShoreTel has announced Mobility 8, a significant update to their mobile offering. It adds video support, integration with the ShoreTel Communicator desktop call-control suite, a virtualized ShoreTel Mobility Router, and an expansion of ShoreTel’s Mobility “Today” capabilities. ShoreTel Mobility had its genesis in ShoreTel’s 2010 acquisition of Agito, but the offering has come a long way since then. “We’ve been through three major releases under Shoretel,” said Ed Wright, ShoreTel’s director of product management. “Agito was all about fixed mobile convergence – making sure you could seamlessly pass calls across, cost optimization, cost avoidance, and improving coverage in hard to reach places. We used that foundationally for Mobility, but over successive releases we have started to build in a more comprehensive UC experience on top of it, to give the same kind of user experience as on the desktop, like Director, Collaboration, Presence, voice mail integration, and call routing integration. Mobility 8 is about completing that story.” Wright said Mobility 8 has two major user-facing enhancements, of which the first is the addition of video support. Video calls are supported over local or remote Wi-Fi and cellular data worldwide, and integrate with best of breed room-based systems that support open industry standards (H.264/AVC) including Lifesize and Polycom. “There was no significant technical hurdle to overcome in adding video support, just a matter of priorities,” Wright said. “It was important, but not the most important thing from an integration standpoint, so there were others we did first. But there was always the expectation of UC consumers that they would have access to this on their enterprise devices.” The second big user-facing change is new integration with ShoreTel Communicator. “One UC client controlling another seems like a weird matchup, but mobility gives the user a real choice of whether they want to use their desktop or mobile device as their primary enterprise device,” Wright said. “If they choose to move to mobile, there have had to be some compromises, because there just isn’t room on the interface for 500 features in the mobile world. If, however, they have their Communicator on their laptop, they can get the desktop interface, and can use their mobile device without functional compromise.” Wright said that for Apple devices, this becomes even more compelling when interfaced with the ShoreTel Dock. The third big change is an architectural back-end one, the virtualization of the ShoreTel Mobility Router. “This finishes our virtualization story ecosystem, and it gives the customer the flexibility to deploy to a physical or virtual environment as they see fit,” Wright said. He also stressed the virtualization router will really help ShoreTel partners win deals with smaller customers. “This will allow us to be more aggressive in the small 5-15 unit mobile deployments,” he said. “It had been challenging in those small deployments because of the cost of the mobility router. This cuts the initial investment in getting 10 users live by two thirds! That’s a big win for us there.” ShoreTel Mobility’s “Today” feature has also been enhanced with this release. Wright said this feature, which was first introduced in Mobility 7 and has been wildly popular with users, initially provided a simple “join” button to join ShoreTel conferences, for a quick one-touch audio bridge. “Enterprise mobility apps have a reputation of making the way users interact with their mobile device harder, but with good design you can turn that around,” Wright said. “Customers asked if we could make it as easy to join other conferencing tools like WebEx and GoToMeeting, and we have done that in Mobility 8. Users of ShoreTel’s Sky subscription service will not get the Communicator integration, and of course the virtualized router is moot in their case. They will receive the video capability and the Mobility “Today” enhancements within the next couple of months, Wright said.