When it comes to cost and simplicity, ShoreTel can’t be beat.
As mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) continue to grow unabated, organizations are faced with the challenge of integrating diverse mobile devices into the corporate communications system. In response to these requirements, a number of phone system manufacturers have introduced mobility solutions that do just that. That leaves organizations with a new dilemma — which mobility solution to choose.
Dimitri Mantzouranis, President of iMobile, a consulting firm focused on unified communications, customer relationship management and mobility, recently compared the ShoreTel Mobility RoamAnywhere Client with Cisco Jabber. Both solutions enable mobile employees to work from anywhere, on any device, with full access to corporate phone system capabilities. But Mantzouranis found distinct differences in the two products.
“I found that the RoamAnywhere Client was more user-friendly than Jabber for certain functions,” he said. “In addition, ShoreTel’s mobility platform is more flexible and provides a lower total cost of ownership than Cisco’s solution.”
The primary benefit of a mobility solution lies in extending the enterprise communications infrastructure to single- and dualmode (Wi-Fi and cellular) mobile devices. The devices connect to the enterprise communications network via public and private Wi-Fi as well as carrier cellular networks, enabling consistent communications regardless of the user’s location. Mobile devices connecting via the public Internet utilize a virtual private network (VPN) for security.
“It enables mobile users to dial a four-digit extension to reach anybody in the organization, and to send and receive calls from their business number rather than their cellular number,” Mantzouranis said. “It also enables organizations to reduce their telecommunications costs by leveraging the corporate network instead of the carrier’s cellular network.”
In order to maximize these benefits, the process must be invisible to end-users Mantzouranis found that Cisco Jabber requires users to take an extra step to connect to the corporate IP phone system. The ShoreTel RoamAnywhere Client does not.
“If you’re outside the corporate Wi-Fi network, Jabber requires that you physically engage the VPN,” Mantzouranis said. “If you don’t do that, you’re not connected to the enterprise phone system and can’t take advantage of extension dialing and other features. There have also been reports of smartphones dropping the VPN connection when they go idle, which means that the user has to reengage periodically. That’s asking a lot from the end-user. Plus, you have another app specific to the VPN.
“The ShoreTel app connects to the enterprise phone system automatically regardless of your location. You get fast and automatic network selection that optimizes cost and call quality as well as productivity. Because it’s seamless to the end-user, you maximize the ROI.”
Investment and TCO
The ShoreTel Mobility solution also provides organizations with greater flexibility. Jabber is designed to work with Cisco phone systems — and then only certain Cisco phone systems. Not all Jabber features are available for all kinds of phones. ShoreTel, in contrast, enables access to any phone system from virtually any device across any network.
“If you study the Jabber specifications, you find that to connect your phone system to iPhones you need Cisco AnyConnect VPN, which requires a Cisco ASA firewall, which precludes the use of certain lower-end Cisco phone systems,” Mantzouranis said. “In a recent forum post, a Cisco representative said they were working on extending Jabber to some of those lower-end platforms but offered no firm date.
“If you want presence, you are going to need an enterprise-class Cisco phone system. Jabber’s presence functionality requires Cisco Unified Presence Server, which is only available at the high end of the market. With ShoreTel, presence is built in.”
Based upon his research, Mantzouranis found that the ShoreTel solution is cheaper — both from an initial investment and in terms of ongoing maintenance costs.
“Jabber is a suite of applications with some interesting features that ShoreTel doesn’t offer yet,” said Mantzouranis. “If your organization really needs that functionality, then Jabber may be the better choice. But if you’re looking for something that’s user friendly, flexible and has a low initial investment and low total cost of ownership, then take a look at ShoreTel. Depending upon your requirements, ShoreTel is the better value.”
Dimitri Mantzouranis, President & Founder, iMobile Mr. Mantzouranis helps clients develop a mobility strategy that meets the demands of today’s marketplace. His expertise enables enterprises to accelerate business processes, respond to customers more quickly, generate opt-in databases, drive online traffic, sell goods or services via a mobile site, and more. He combines an in-depth knowledge of the technology with a rich understanding of customer needs.