Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
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Zeus Kerravala | August 19, 2014 |


ShoreTel Finally Sees a Path to Video

ShoreTel Finally Sees a Path to Video ShoreTel announced a major update to its ShoreTel Mobility client that brings video into the fold, and I think the solution hits the nail on the proverbial video head.

ShoreTel announced a major update to its ShoreTel Mobility client that brings video into the fold, and I think the solution hits the nail on the proverbial video head.

ShoreTel has been one of the leading unified communications (UC) solution providers for many years. However, despite their strong product suite, the company had a big hole in its portfolio - it didn't have a video solution. Last week ShoreTel announced a major update to its ShoreTel Mobility client that brings video into the fold, and I think the solution hits the nail on the proverbial video head.

Historically, video may have been UC's ugly stepchild, but it has been gaining momentum over the past few years and now is considered a core part of a UC solution. There are still some video skeptics out there, but these tend to be older, stodgy people that don't fully appreciated the value that video brings.

Video usage has shifted over the past five years. Historically, enterprise video was done primarily in board rooms or conference rooms and used mainly for scheduled calls. Today though, video is being used more and more on mobile devices and laptops.

In fact, in a global video survey done by ZK Research last year, mobile video usage was stronger than all other types of video. The question asked was, "How often are the following types of video used at least once per day within your organization?" Mobile video ranked No. 1 with 83%, followed by laptop/desktop video at 82%. Next were executive systems at 75%, followed by room systems and telepresence systems both at 57%. Notice a pattern here? The more personal the solution, the higher the utilization rate, and this is why I like the new ShoreTel offering.

ShoreTel Mobility 8 enables users to communicate via video utilizing the ShoreTel Mobility Client. Through the client, workers can participate in a video session with a single click on any smart phone or tablet running Apple's iOS or Google's Android. The solution also works on Windows laptops using ShoreTel Communicator. Additionally, users of the ShoreTel video client can join multi-party video sessions on room-based systems that support H.264/SVC.

The thing I like most about ShoreTel's approach to video is that the solution is being positioned as an extension of the organization's mobility solution and not desktop UC solution. In fact, the video capabilities are supported as a feature on the newly virtualized ShoreTel Mobility Router. So customers who want to enable video can do so on an existing ShoreTel appliance or by running the Virtual Mobility Router on a virtual machine. The virtualization of the Mobility Router allows customers to roll out video to any location in mere minutes.

The "mobile first" strategy by ShoreTel should give the company a shot at gaining some share on the traditional vendors. If you've read my stuff in the past, you know my philosophy is that share shift can only occur at moments of market transition. Had ShoreTel decided to come to market with a more traditional video solution that treats video as a fixed asset, I'm not sure they would have much success. Why? Well there are already a number of established vendors in the "traditional" video space and, given the size of the market, I don't think there's much opportunity for a new entrant. However, as my survey indicated, the mobile video segment is hot right now and should give ShoreTel an opportunity to establish itself as a mobile video vendor.

One of the things I didn't see in the press release was when the mobile video capabilities would be available through the company's cloud-based Sky platform. ShoreTel has indicated that they would eventually be unifying the code base of the premises and cloud offerings, so I'm sure cloud-delivered mobile video will be available sooner rather than later.

On a related note, the mobile video capabilities should be appealing to the ShoreTel channel partners, as it gives the resellers a much more complete mobility portfolio. The ability to pitch a collaboration solution that leads with a visual experience should be particularly appealing to channel partners that are focused on organizations with a high number of younger workers.

I had been expecting ShoreTel to have a video solution for some time now, but given the focus on mobile video, the release is well timed with current market trends.

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