ShoreTel Updates Mobility Platform Behind BYOD Trend

Key to the ShoreTel Mobility platform is how it can extend an enterprise'e existing PBX infrastructure to enable voice calls over VoIP connections -- essentially a way to extend UC systems all the way to the mobile edge on a range of devices, while also radically cutting down on roaming charges and international communications costs.

The company went live with the platform -- and a channel program for solution providers interested in selling it -- earlier this year, using the technology it gained with its acquisition of Agito Networks in Oct. 2010. ShoreTel preserved a crucial Agito feature, too: the Mobility platform works with both ShoreTel systems and systems by Cisco, Avaya, Mitel and a range of other vendors, allowing ShoreTel products to "trojan horse" their way into competitors' environments.

Pejman Roshan, who was Agito's co-founder and chief marketing officer before the acquisition, said ShoreTel sought a way to further monetize the BYOD trend for partners but do more than offer a variation on other mobile infrastructure products out there.

"We didn't want to just do mobile device management," said Roshan, now vice president, mobility at ShoreTel.

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The updated version of Mobility includes native telephony interface integration on Google Android-based devices such as the Motorola Atrix 4G, Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola Droid X2, HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the earlier-generation Motorola Droid. ShoreTel Mobility already supports all Apple iOS devices and several Research In Motion devices that run BlackBerry OS 6.0. The new version will ship in November.

Roshan said more Android devices will be added with each successive ShoreTel Mobility release. Fragmentation in the Android platform -- that is, the various versions of Android and their various configurations in different manufacturers' handsets -- makes it difficult to broadly cover Android devices, he explained, so ShoreTel is opting at first for some of the most popular and up-to-date in the market.

ShoreTel Mobility was a major topic at this year's ShoreTel Champion Partner conference in Chicago, described by ShoreTel CEO Peter Blackmore as a key strategy for driving ShoreTel into larger accounts and boosting its market share. A number of ShoreTel's top solution providers sell the platform, which Roshan said will eventually be integrated into ShoreTel's broader portfolio.

About 10 percent of ShoreTel's roughly 800 global partners sell ShoreTel Mobility now, according to Roshan. There are about a dozen global partners -- Dimension Data being one of the best-known names -- who sell only ShoreTel Mobility and not ShoreTel's UC and CC portfolios and about half of those are telecom carriers and service providers, he said.