Michelle Burbick
Michelle Burbick is the Associate Editor and a blogger for No Jitter, UBM Tech's online community for news and analysis...
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Michelle Burbick | February 24, 2016 |


Hybrid Made Easy

Hybrid Made Easy ShoreTel enables companies to mix and match on-site and cloud solutions according to business needs.

ShoreTel enables companies to mix and match on-site and cloud solutions according to business needs.

If we learned one thing in our recent Twitter chat on UCaaS, it's that the path to cloud is different for every company. Drivers may be similar -- increased agility, extension of IT staff, and potential cost reduction -- but each company will approach the cloud decision with its specific end goals in mind.

In that chat we explored whether UCaaS is an inevitability for the enterprise with the help of Dave Michels (@DaveMichels), principal analyst at TalkingPointz, and Zeus Kerravala (@zkerravala), founder and principal analyst at ZK Research -- both longtime No Jitter contributors and Enterprise Connect speakers.

We discussed everything as basic as defining UCaaS and its benefits, and as complex as differentiating between UCaaS providers and exploring hybrid options. When if came to the question of hybrid benefits, Dave had a particularly fitting comment:

He added:

Zeus chimed in:

With such a demand for hybrid, where can you find it? Several vendors, including including Mitel, Microsoft, Cisco, Fonality, Star2Star Communications, and ShoreTel, offer "designed for hybrid solutions," Dave noted.

ShoreTel furthered its hybrid story today, announcing that it has rolled out its ShoreTel Connect Hybrid Sites in North America with an aim of helping companies adopt the cloud at their own paces. With Hybrid Sites, companies can mix and match ShoreTel on-premises and cloud services across multiple locations.

The Hybrid Sites offering really comes down to three main use cases, Rich Winslow, senior director of product management at ShoreTel, told me in a phone briefing. The first target is the more than four million customers using ShoreTel's on-prem solutions, Rich said. These businesses are changing, whether through acquisitions, sheer company growth, or the addition of new locations. With the Hybrid Sites option, these companies can add cloud locations and link them to existing on-prem systems without integration worries. ShoreTel Connect uses the exact same software for consumtpion as a service or on prem.

The second target is new customers. Hybrid Sites, for example, could be a practical approach for a company that prefers a capital investment for a large headquarters location but wants to roll out cloud solutions for its other offices, Rich said.

The third target is global companies that can't get access to UCaaS at all locations and so need a complementary premises option. As Rich pointed out, UCaaS may not be available in countries where the infrastructure doesn't support fast enough data speeds, and global organizations can be challenged when they are unable to support one solution type across all dispersed sites. With Hybrid Sites, such companies could deploy Connect Onsite for locations where UCaaS is not yet practical and Connect Cloud for its locations where it makes sense. Hybrid then allows all these sites to be linked together through the same software that provides automated directory synchronization, a common dial plan for extension-to-extension dialing, and feature parity.

ShoreTel Hybrid Sites

ShoreTel Hybrid Sites doesn't require companies to have SIP trunk TIE lines or session border controllers at their sites, or to make firewall modifications "or practically any network configuration," noted Jeremy Vignaux, vice president of technology at Harbor Networks, a ShoreTel channel partner. This he finds to be "a refreshing change in the SIP world," he said in today's press release. "And the automated configuration of the Connect Onsite system via cloud provisioning is also impressive."

Companies using Hybrid Sites will have access, via secure tokens, to a cloud management platform. From there they will be able to configure and synchronize services across sites, Rich explained.

Users should have a seamless experience, whether working with the on-prem or cloud system, Rich said.

With as many unique paths as there are to the cloud, the ability to easily craft a solution that fits your individual business could be a game-changer. Perhaps it is best summed up by ShoreTel CMO Mark Roberts, who wrote about cloud UC on No Jitter in October.

"The real question is not cloud or onsite or even hybrid ... but what are you trying to do and where does it make the best sense for you to deploy communications for your business?" he wrote. "Businesses should look for a single platform and user experience that delivers the same functionality whether deployed in the cloud, on-site, or some hybrid combination of the two."

Here, here! Enough said.

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