ShoreTel Makes Splash With M5; VARs Ponder The Ripple Effects

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Partners will be watching the integration, from small maneuvers -- M5's current list of approved and supported IP phones is primarily Cisco models, for example -- to strategic changes in the program.

"If ShoreTel can keep the message about survivability and about how something stays redundant and doesn't go cheap over a basic Internet connection, they'll work here," said Perfect Video Conferencing's Marcotte. "People who know our business know that we need to maintain healthy margins, so we'll be looking to understand that here."

"I like that it's ShoreTel now having a complete solution to engage customers with," Westron's Casey said. "It's important to have both a cloud-based or hosted-based alternative to premise-based, and have that all be ShoreTel. But short term, [hosted] is a totally different sell. If you already have ShoreTel but want to add a cloud-based option, it's probably not the time to do that yet; you'll wait on their next series of phones."

ShoreTel's acquisition and integration of Agito built a lot of faith in ShoreTel's ability to do M&A well, Casey said, adding that the company articulated a clear value proposition around the Agito technology that became ShoreTel Mobility and used its smaller size to be nimble about how it got those products and services out to the channel. M5 is obviously a much bigger acquisition and will test ShoreTel further, he said.

"The mobility stuff is starting to click now, and some of the deals we're in there are going to start to become real revenue producers in 2012," Casey said. "I think the longer they keep the M5 business separate, it'll give them time to work out an integration story that's going to work for everyone."

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