ShoreTel Teases New Hybrid Platform

Unified communications and VoIP vendor ShoreTel is set to unify its on-premise and cloud platforms in an effort to push more cloud services through the channel.

With the major shift from on-premise to cloud solutions becoming more relevant than ever in 2015, ShoreTel is launching a hybrid platform to help partners make the transition to the cloud, according to Heather Tenuto, vice president of worldwide channel programs and sales enablement at ShoreTel.

"Once we deliver that product, it's really going to accelerate ShoreTel," said Tenuto, in an interview with CRN. "We're really leading the way in creating this hybrid category in UC where you'll see even more rapid adoption of cloud because people can pick and choose what pieces of their service they do want in the cloud. The new platform will offer four different flavors of creating a hybrid between on-premise and cloud platforms."

[Related: Cisco Pulls Ahead In Enterprise UC Race Against Microsoft]

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Tenuto said a large part of the market is still hesitant around cloud telephony and cloud UC.

"This new platform will give them an entry point that's more comfortable for them," said Tenuto. "Depending on what they like about cloud and what they don’t like about cloud, what they like about on-site and what they don’t like about on-site -- this single platform allows us to create hybrid situations that will help more people take advantage of the cloud services that they're comfortable with."

The official unveiling of the new platform is planned for ShoreTel's One Champion Partner Conference next month in Orlando, Fla.

By 2016, over 50 percent of midsize and large organizations in North America will be running some of their unified communications applications over either a private or public cloud service, according to an Infonetics survey released on Monday.

"Businesses continue to migrate their unified communications applications to the cloud, citing flexibility as the key reason," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research, in a release.

ShoreTel partners said the hybrid platform is needed for solution providers wanting to ease their way into the cloud who might be currently selling on-premise, with little to no cloud services. Partners also get to capture recurring revenue streams through a hybrid platform.

"Historically, in the premise-based-only business, you kind of rode a rollercoaster of sales," said Russ Zielezinski, chief operating officer at Advanced Telecommunications of Illinois, a ShoreTel and Mitel partner based in Naperville. "With monthly revenue streams, you know it's coming in every month that makes it easier to manage our business … ShoreTel knows, and is listening to, the market and that's why you're seeing [a new hybrid platform]."

The Infonetics study found the top device used by businesses is smartphones, ahead of desktop computers and laptops. An increasing part of UC for businesses is web and videoconferencing, as well as text messaging, according to the study.

"Cloud solutions are inherently more flexible than premises-based solutions, offering businesses the ability to scale users up and down, centralize management and deploy new features and applications quickly," said Myers.