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Dave Casey, CEO of Westron Communications, a Carrollton, Texas-based solution provider, said he understands ShoreTel's position, but it's hard to deny an emerging market opportunity behind cloud-based UC.
"I think it's an important part of the space, and we're looking at several other ShoreTel partners who already sell it as a managed service," Casey said. "A lot of our clients are asking us for a turnkey solution."
Asked why ShoreTel likely backed off the hosted argument this year when it seemed such a priority last year, Casey said ShoreTel was still likely testing the waters.
"I think they did an experiment just to see if there is a market," he said. "I think there is a market, but they've got so many other irons in the fire right now, maybe it's one thing they didn't want to chase. But there are business partners of theirs that are chasing it so maybe they think that those who are doing it already will have that covered."
Other partners opined that ShoreTel's initial support for partners who wanted to sell ShoreTel's products as-a-service was lacking.
"The reason they're not talking about it is because they went to market with it half-baked," said a ShoreTel partner who requested anonymity. "It's going to take some time to get it right, and a lot of ShoreTel's regional partners just aren't set up for it yet. I think they've backed off talking about it this year because they realized they created too much hype around it at the last show and just weren't ready to deliver."
Westron's Casey said he has seen instances where companies with 150 to 200 employees that may have looked at a hosted solution in the past now prefer an in-house system because they do have the IT resources to support it. If ShoreTel is going after bigger accounts, he said, it is more likely to encounter midmarket-and-up customers that aren't embracing hosted networking as readily as small businesses are.
But ShoreTel's simplicity does make ShoreTel's platform a good fit for cloud services, he added.