Thursday, 06 November 2014 12:00

VIDEO: ShoreTel shores up virtualised unified communications


ShoreTel has its wares on display at VMware’s 2014 VForum at Sydney’s Luna Park, with today the final day, showcasing not only its snazzy smartphone and tablet phone IP docks but also its current UC platform release, ShoreTel 14.2 - plus we had a chat on video to one of ShoreTel’s solution architects, Kevin Rossiter in the VForum exhibition area.

The first thing that drew my attention to ShoreTel’s stand was its cool voice and video IP telephony docks compatible Apple iPhones and iPads using the Lightning-port and 30-pin port.

You’ll see these in the video embedded below, filmed yesterday on the first day of VMware’s annual VForum conference.

ShoreTel was demonstrating its current UC platform, ShoreTel 14.2, which it says ‘allows companies of all sizes to deploy a ShoreTel communications system in a virtual environment’.

The platform ‘delivers greater flexibility for customers, with the ability to mix and match hardware-based and virtual appliances in a single network, all managed using a single web-based management interface’, and lets the company’s customers ‘select the UC deployment model that best suits their business and infrastructure needs – virtual, physical or any combination of both’.

Naturally, immediate benefits are promised, comprising of ‘reduced hardware and operational complexity, higher application availability, increased scalability and reliability.’

Here’s our chat with ShoreTel’s Kevin Rossiter - the article continues below.

The company explains that ‘ShoreTel 14.2 enables all ShoreTel UC components, including call control, SIP trunks, and collaboration applications, to be virtualised and implemented on industry standard servers’, while adding that ‘virtualisation allows customers to take advantage of features for higher availability, such as VMware vSphere High Availability, and zero-downtime live migration of running virtual machines with VMware vSphere vMotion, to improve applications availability and enable disaster recovery practices companies already have in place.’

The platform has unsurprisingly been designed to allow ‘easy scalability for enterprise-grade customers by quadrupling the port capacity per appliance’, with its virtual switches supporting ‘up to 1,000 phones and 500 SIP trunks’, with this increased capacity simplifying ‘deployment and eliminates the need to manage multiple appliances, especially for customers that choose a centralised UC deployment’ - all of which ‘consolidates the server hardware across multiple applications, reducing energy requirements and minimizing hardware footprint.’

Jamie Romanin, ShoreTel’s ANZ MD said: “Since the global release of ShoreTel 14.2 earlier this year, our partners in Australia and New Zealand have really embraced the new capabilities and opportunities that a virtualised communications presents for their business. It’s enabled ShoreTel partners to deliver new technical offerings, and also opened up greater business opportunities for partners to offer cloud-based and managed hosting solutions.”

“More and more organisations throughout Australia are embracing the ability to deliver ShoreTel Unified Communication (UC) as a virtual software-only solution as it allows customers to take advantage of server consolidation, increased security, operational flexibility and higher applications availability during planned and unplanned downtime - all resulting in increased cost savings and decreased downtime.”

ShoreTel points out that comms requirements ‘vary widely from company to company, and the availability of virtualisation technology is changing how UC is deployed in small- and medium-sized companies as well as large enterprises’, and adds that ‘virtualisation technology can deliver a number of benefits to customers, depending on customer uses and needs’.

The company points to VMware stats that show many ‘physical servers operate at less than 15 percent of capacity’, with this being ‘highly inefficient’ while introducing ‘server sprawl and complexity’.

It will come as no surprise to hear VMware stating that ‘server virtualisation delivers 80% greater utilisation of server resources, up to 50% savings in capital and operating costs, and a 10:1 or better server consolidation ratio.’

Pej Roshan, ShoreTel’s VP of product management said: “The time is now to take advantage of virtualisation for unified communications – the infrastructure is in place, the market is ready, the channel is knowledgeable, and customers are clamouring to virtualise their PBX and entire communications platform.”

“Virtualisation complements our distributed architecture and allows customers to benefit from virtualisation features and ShoreTel’s inherent N+1 redundancy to deliver high availability at the lowest cost. In addition, virtualisation sets the foundation for customers to consume VoIP services via on-premises, hybrid, and cloud deployment models.”

ShoreTel naturally says its solution lets its customers ‘choose the unique deployment model that best suits their needs’, which allows them to ‘leverage virtual servers they already own and operate’.

An example given of an Australian ShoreTel customer is the Prestons Motors Group, with ShoreTel’s virtualised UC platform giving the car dealership ‘the flexibility to deploy a new telephony environment even though the Victorian-based company was planning to move to a new corporate headquarters’.
Prestons implemented ‘an on premise ShoreTel solution to provide unified communications for all staff in its nine car dealerships in Victoria and the ACT, with plans in place to move the UC infrastructure into a third party data centre once the corporate headquarters relocation takes place’, with the implementation completed by one of ShoreTel’s partners, CTI Solutions.

Andrew Demetriou, a comms consultant at CTI said: “The main advantage of the ShoreTel virtualised platform is that the phone system can be located anywhere. With Prestons Motor Group, we were able to offer an on premise solution first, with the flexibility to move that to a data centre at a later stage.”
“With ShoreTel’s virtualised platform, we have been able to get involved in more complex solutions and also become more consultative in our approach. Having fully virtualised communications means that we can future proof our customer’s infrastructure and also reduce their IT footprint either by moving more services and infrastructure into the data centre, or by provisioning UC on their existing virtualised infrastructure.”
“Virtualisation also has given us the ability to get involved with deals that require multi-site and multi-tenant environments that need to be very cost-effective. We are now competing with hosted solutions all around Australia,” added Demetriou.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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