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March 16, 2012

Cloud UC or On-premises? ShoreTel Says You Decide

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

The messages from ShoreTel (News - Alert) CEO Peter Blackmore and M5 CEO Dan Hoffman were similar at ShoreTel’s Investor Day in San Francisco.  Each wants to be the best in the business and see the combined entity (ShoreTel hopes to finalize the acquisition of M5 before the end of the month) as the gateway to the future.

“There is no big competitor in the hosted space, so I wanted to spend our shareholders’ money on a company that was already a leader in the cloud industry and in which I had confidence,” explained Blackmore during the event at AT&T (News - Alert) Park.  “By leveraging the joint companies, there is huge potential for us to be the leader in the cloud industry.  We have an inherent advantage in the competitive landscape and we aim to keep it.”

The advantage is that, while ShoreTel has made significant strides in the on-premises market, there is no denying the growth of the cloud market.  There is also no denying the grain of salt that comes with commentary on cloud from an on-premises vendor or on an in-house PBX (News - Alert) from a cloud or hosted provider.  You expect them to favor their model, and you expect them to highlight the benefits over alternatives.  But you also expect them to conveniently overlook some of the data favoring their competitors.

Once the deal is finalized, ShoreTel will have the luxury of defending both positions with equal conviction, and prospective customers should listen comfortably, knowing it no longer has a stake in just one model and will be able to provide the solution that truly meets customer needs.

In fact, it goes even further, allowing for a future roadmap as it has for the San Francisco Giants organization.

“Looking towards the future, the concept of having hosted is very appealing to me,” noted Bill Schlough, the baseball club’s CIO.  “We love ShoreTel’s service, and now that they’ve added M5, we see ourselves migrating in that direction at some point in time.  Having that migration path is fantastic.”

In addition to its major league park and grapefruit league stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona, the organization also needs to connect several other facilities via its communications infrastructure, which currently are running on-premises virtual switches. 

“Going cloud with those sites is a no-brainer,” Schlough adds.  “I’m excited that ShoreTel made the acquisition.”

It’s a compelling proposition.  No longer does ShoreTel have to favor the premises-based model when pitching to customers.  Rather, it can direct leads in whichever direction will serve the customer best.  In fact, it already plans on sending a logical cross-section of its existing leads to M5 as soon as he deal is finalized.

If you want on-premises, you have a solution from ShoreTel that is easy to deploy and manage; if you don’t have the IT staff to manage it or the capital to invest in the equipment, you have a solution from ShoreTel that can provide you the same capabilities.

Not many vendors can say that.

“We have an inherent advantage in the competitive landscape and we aim to keep it,” said Blackmore.  “I feel passionate about it – we made some bold moves, and we have built up a great capability.”




Edited by Rich Steeves
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