Hybrid: More than Virtualisation

Adrian Hipkiss, Managing Director & Vice President for EMEA at ShoreTel, talks to Comms Business Magazine about the broader plans for application development for their communications platform and where the recent announcements regarding the introduction of virtualised and cloud deployment models fit into that plan.

ShoreTel’s mantra is one of creating ‘brilliantly simple’ solutions for channel partners and their customers. It’s an on-going ethos that has seen significant product and application introductions in recent times.

“ShoreTel’s acquisition of Agito for example brought simple yet powerful mobility integration in to a market that had suffered in the past with complex and unwieldy channel solutions. Channel partners will now soon be able to offer this service as a cloud deployment model as well as virtualised and switch based solutions available today. These developments will further simplify the implementation and ongoing cost of ownership.

Other applications such as the Enterprise Contact Centre solution sales are growing at twice the rate of 12 months ago with this growth rate showing no signs of abating. The solution is available as a solid-state communications appliance with no spinning media or as a virtualised solution is also soon to be provided as a cloud deployment model.

The fundamental difference however to other solutions is that ShoreTel offers these deployment models both discrete offerings where they may be solely virtualised or solely appliance based but now also as Hybrid models where virtualised and appliance based models sit within the architecture side by side. We firmly believe that the hybrid approach will dominate the communications market as it has other application deployment models where customers need to match on-premises, virtualised or hosted delivery models to their needs and not just to offer the one discreet delivery model.

By taking this approach customers and partners continue to benefit from all of our developments but retain that brilliantly simple ethos where all of the options and choices we provide users do not get in the way or complicate things. This of course also means that training needs and other investments are reduced and simply reuse existing skills

Looking at the virtualised market there is clearly a huge groundswell behind VMware. In the mid to enterprise markets their dominance is well understood and so creating a solution that operates gracefully here is an important move but at the same time ShoreTel is also testing with Hyper-V to ensure choice is provided to all market sectors

The approach of choice is also paramount as ShoreTel now moves to introduce its cloud offering ShoreTel Sky into Europe. ShoreTel has invested heavily in developing ShoreTel Sky, since the acquisition of M5 Networks and has recently opened new data centres from where it provides the multi-tenant UC cloud platform.

The fundamentals underpinning the customer need for hybrid solutions are clear. IT department strategies will change, and businesses always change, but the cost of these changes is often unplanned and can be painful if you are locked into a single deployment model. Hybrid allows flexibility and accommodates this change through operational and not capital cost.

There are also security issues to consider for some businesses alongside ensuring interoperability with other applications. Most platforms will have achieved a level of integration here but not necessarily with legacy applications and so again this route can carry hidden costs of upgrades to these other platforms. So whilst a cloud model may be ideal for some it may not be for others and this is where hybrid addresses the issues.

The ShoreTel vision is to have a common operating platform and environment to create a hybrid solution and then enable what the user wants to be deployed where it is needed and by using the most efficient delivery method. We will ensure that the benefits of the cloud are not held back by integration issues and with the release of our latest 14.2 iteration of software there are two areas for our resellers to gain significant traction.

If users have decided upon their virtualisation strategy and that includes voice then many of our partners are already VMware accredited. In addition many of our partners already provide services from their data centres and are providing these in to IT environments and have been selling virtualised applications for some time. For them, voice is just the next step on that journey where all of the reasons to deploy virtualisation still apply.

So now these Shoretel partners can provide a fully virtualised platform on VMware including telephony, contact centre, mobility and conferencing.

Therefore we see two types of channel partner for our products; those that already get or utilise virtualisation where they can now deploy virtualised voice communications to their users, and secondly those that are not experienced in virtualisation where we can help them take those first steps in providing their users a virtualised or hybrid solution.

Our approach is therefore to provide both ShoreTel CPE switched and ShoreTel virtualised switches in an environment where they can readily co-exist and talk to each other.

Why would users deploy both solution types? Well imagine you already have a ShoreTel CPE switch but have a new site to bring in to the mix. By installing a virtual switch the integration of that new site is fast and simple. The ShoreTel Director – a management application – will see the virtual switch on the network.

Another example would be a user with say 50 sites that wants to virtualise them all. With the ShoreTel solution there would not have to be a ‘big bang’ where all sites are changed over together so that communications were maintained between them, but instead a migration strategy that provides a clean, crisp and simple solution to their virtualisation plan.

We believe that our brilliantly simple solutions truly offer customers the choice and flexibility they are searching for. Certainly our growing number of customer advocates and delighted customers – supported by our ascending net promoter score – suggests that ShoreTel offers the range of intuitive solutions SMB’s demand from a UC supplier.”

See www.shoretel.com for more information.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine