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As ShoreTel's evolved, there have undoubtedly been growing pains. ShoreTel's size -- it did just shy of $250 million in its fiscal 2012, compared with multibillion dollar UC competitors -- meant using the bulk of its cash to buy M5 for about $146 million. And almost immediately after the acquisition closed came those nagging, expected questions about integration and whether ShoreTel was equipped to handle integrating a cloud business without disrupting its core UC and contact center businesses.
The ShoreTel executive and channel support landscape has also changed since Blackmore took over as CEO in December 2010.
Gone, at least since the last big gathering of ShoreTel partners in July 2011, are Don Girskis, former senior vice president, worldwide sales, Jeff Valentine, who joined ShoreTel as product vice president, Cloud Division following the M5 buy, Tom Hamilton, former senior director, worldwide channel marketing and now at Riverbed, and most recently, Annette Lorenz, senior director, worldwide channel marketing, whom sources told CRN left ShoreTel at the end of October.
Into the mix are Joe Vitalone, who left ShoreTel to take over the top Americas sales job at LifeSize in 2009 and returned to ShoreTel in May as vice president, channel management, and David Petts, a veteran of Nokia, HP and Compaq, who signed on as ShoreTel's new senior vice president, worldwide sales in July.
Petts and Vitalone told CRN in a recent interview that ShoreTel now has the partners it needs and plans to continue to invest in those partners, which now have many more options beyond bread-and-butter, on-premise PBX systems to sell to customers.
"You'll see a lot more 'rifle shot' recruitment rather than broad geographical recruitment," Petts said. "We're seeing investment in ShoreTel from many channel partners, so we want to help them break through to a level where it becomes a sustainable, consistent business for them."
Overall, ShoreTel's net number of partners increased 8 percent from last year, Petts said, but the ShoreTel channel has churned significantly thanks to cuts of underperforming partners and also the recruitment of partners from rival channels, including what Petts described as "disenchanted Avaya partners."