Mitel Closes Unified Communications Gap For SMBs

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According to Kevin Johnson, director of solutions marketing, first up is Mitel's new Applications Suite 1.1, a suite that offers applications such as audio and Web conferencing, unified messaging, single identity mobile integration and teleworker support. The Applications Suite is a single server with an administration interface and can be offered in pre-integrated packages for easier deployment and upgrades, Johnson said. Essentially, it's an all-in-one unified communications server for SMBs.

Johnson said right now the Mitel Applications Suite is available for the Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) and will be available by the end of the year for the Mitel 5000 Network Communications Solution, which is Mitel's rebranding of the Inter-Tel 5000 from the acquisition.

The rebranded SMB PBX key system, the Mitel 5000 Network Communications System with release 2.4, now offers support for Mitel 5200 and 5300 series IP phones, including the 5212, 5224, 5330 and 5340. According to Johnson, the 5200 series offers users easy access to the features and applications of the Mitel 5000, while the 5300 series IP phones give users improved ease of use and flexibility for different job types and skill levels with large graphical displays, wideband audio support and programmable self-labeling keys for one-touch access to speed calls, features and more.

For existing Inter-Tel 5000 customers, a software upgrade will be available.

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Mitel also made available IP phone accessories for the Mitel 5000, including the Mitel Wireless LAN Stand and the Mitel Gigabit Ethernet Stand.

The new offerings round out Mitel's SMB portfolio, which offers a phone portfolio ranging from entry-level to full-featured IP sets and a host of application solutions to unify communications. Johnson said the integration and branding of the former Inter-Tel platforms allow Mitel to offer solutions specifically tailored to micro, small and medium businesses. Other gear in the SMB portfolio include the Mitel 1000, for fewer than five users; the Mitel 3000, for fewer than 250 users; and now the Mitel 5000, for fewer than 250 users. Those SMB solutions are complemented by the Mitel 3300 ICP, which can scale to address large or distributed organizations with up to 65,000 users in a network.

The rebranded Mitel 5000 will be easy for resellers to commission and install, said Asif Rehman, Mitel's director of solutions marketing, noting that it also opens the door for VARs to offer their clients more phones and devices. Same goes for the applications suite, he said.

"It's all on one server," he said. "It's a single hardware install."

Rehman said SMBs now are concerned with future-proofing their networks to facilitate a move to IP, a jump many have not yet taken.

Johnson agreed, noting that future-proofing is becoming essential for SMBs and Ottawa-based Mitel's new offerings help them take a phased approach to VoIP.

"They can adopt IP where it makes sense," he said.

Robert Handel, vice president of sales for New York-based solution provider Cortel, a Mitel partner for roughly three decades and an Inter-Tel partner for about 15 years, said the merging of the two companies has produced a product road map that will help him target his SMB customers and gain a competitive advantage.

According to Handel, the blending of the two companies, a "cross-pollination," has done away with some of the inefficiencies each had as a separate entity.

"The point of entry is a lot less expensive now for customers," he said, adding that in the past many SMBs viewed unified communications solutions as too costly. But by offering packaged bundles like the application suite, which is just one server, businesses can cut overhead. "It's one server to support instead of four," he said.

Handel added that the application suite and the rebranded Mitel 5000 also opens the door to new customers, as well as creating a new reason to engage existing customers, since the Mitel and Inter-Tel solutions are all on one scalable platform.

"It gives us a lot of reasons to go back to the customer base and talk about Inter-Tel and what Mitel adds and vice versa," he said. "It strengthens our position with our clients. And from a competitive perspective, it keeps a lot of them at bay because now I don't think there's anything out there we can't support. It's a well-rounded portfolio. The collective strength of the two companies has heightened their ranking."