Shoreline Communications Monday introduced integrated audio and data conferencing capabilities to its IP telephony platform.
The vendor's ShoreConvergedConference conferencing bridge provides both scheduled and ad hoc capabilities to its Shoreline4 IP-PBX platform, giving solution providers a means of offering in-house conferencing options to customers, said Tom van Overbeek, president and CEO of Shoreline, Sunnyvale.
"It gives [our partners] a much broader product offering. With PBX functionality and this extended feature set, it increases the differences between voice-over-IP [VoIP] and legacy voice technology," van Overbeek said.
The in-house conferencing option can also help solution providers more easily demonstrate return on investment to customers utilizing costly conferencing services from outside providers, he said.
In one example, Shoreline said a health-care customer spending $180,000 per year on conferencing services expects to see a six-month ROI on the new technology.
Customers are already showing interest in Shoreline's new capabilities, said Judi Wrenn, general manager of Data Comm Networking, a Burr Ridge, Ill.-based solution provider.
"One of our first Shoreline installations, when they found out there was a chance to beta-test this, jumped on it right away," she said. Increasingly, the solution provider is working questions about conferencing into presales questioning because customers are either working to develop a conferencing strategy or are at least considering it, she said.
With ShoreConvergedConference, users can set up access codes for voice and data conferences through a browser-based interface. The codes can be reused for recurring meetings or set up as one-time-only codes for added security.
Users can see the "presence" status of other employees to determine whether they are available for conferences. If so, they can be added to a call, regardless of where they are located.
Shoreline also plans in the first quarter of 2004 to add instant document conferencing, which will enable users to drag and drop documents into the system's interface to share them with all parties on a conference call.
No client-side software except a browser is required to share documents between users.
The Linux-based conferencing bridge will be available this month in 12-, 24-, 48- and 96-port configurations with a list price of $1,000 per port for audio conferencing. Data conferencing costs an additional $500 per port.
Shoreline currently has 85 solution provider partners. The company hopes to selectively increase that number to between 150 and 200 partners over time, van Overbeek said.
The vendor has sold its products through a channel-only model for the past year and a half.