Ask the Experts: Is Hybrid or UCaaS a Better Fit?

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle discusses the shift from premise-based PBX to hybrid and UCaaS solutions with ShoreTel’s Senior Director of Product Management Richard Winslow. Find out more about UCaaS, cloud and VoIP solutions from Richard and the ShoreTel team here:

Andrew: Time for another Ask the Experts session. I’ve asked to join us in the studio here today Richard Winslow, who is the Senior Director of Product Management for ShoreTel, and had some really interesting insight on this next topic. Richard, thanks for jumping in here, man.
Richard: You are welcome Andrew.
Andrew: Very cool. Hey, as part of this track, we’ve been talking about the shift, if you will, from premised-based PBXs and premise-based UC solutions to cloud, and how it seems like everything is moving towards cloud. You guys at ShoreTel have some really unique insight here, because as an early adopter, you guys were a large PBX manufacturer, and you made a strategic acquisition in order to develop a cloud strategy, with the acquisition of the M5 that became the ShoreTel Sky division.
Since then, it seems like every one of your direct competitors on the PBX and prem-based side, they’ve all come out with their own cloud strategies. It seems like everyone is now making this mass move to cloud. One would argue maybe even that cloud has won the day. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
I’m really curious, as a premise-based manufacturer that now has a really robust cloud strategy, how is your cloud strategy different from those of the Avayas and Mitels of the world–the guys that have been selling against you on the prem-based side for a long, long time? Where is your strategy unique and different? Talk to me about it.
Richard: Yeah, very exciting. Our executives saw this all coming. We had a very robust premises traditional offering with UC. The acquisition gave us all that technology and robustness of data centers and billing systems, and interfaces, or 911, and all of the we didn’t have. By blending them together, we are a full-fledged UCaaS provider. We are a service provider that’s able to give a great, feature rich, suite of UC apps in a different model now: a UCaaS model.
Whether it’d be cloud, it’d be premises, or a hybrid of both, we can do that for you. Very different from our competitors. One of our competitors is purely an ARMs provider. They’re not a service provider. They just provide technology to others, which can be difficult for people to try to do it themselves.
Andrew: No doubt. It’s not so simple to just wake up one day and say, “I think we’ve been building PBXs for decades. Let’s now become a service provider.” There’s a lot of complexity in that, a lot of moving parts. The acquisition route for you guys seemed to accelerate that plan a lot faster. Am I correct?
Richard: Absolutely. We didn’t have data centers. We didn’t have billing systems, 911 systems, interfaces to SIP service providers, 24/7 support, the ability to port numbers, drop in circuits. That was the expertise, the premium service through the acquisition, and now we’ve melded it with our premium products.
Andrew: Ultimately in your strategy then, a customer is going to be able to choose, “Do I want to go premised or cloud, or do I want to do a hybrid approach?” You guys have been talking a lot lately about this hybrid approach. Speak to the strengths of that. Why would some customers decide that a hybrid is a better fit for them?
Richard: Many reasons why. For instance, our premises customers do look for some. Maybe they’re pre-disposed to premises, or a current premises customer, but they want to add on some applications. Now they can sign up for those, and go, “Hey, give me some facts. Give me some scribe. Give me some more of that.” Maybe mixing and matching locations. You might have a large headquarters or maybe you want to do a capital purchase. Those 40 or 50 remote sites without IT professionals to manage it, you want to go cloud and mix those together.
Another example is: let’s say you’re a company, a global company, and you have offices in South Africa, Columbia, and Manila, in the Philippines. UCaaS isn’t there, or it won’t be there for a long time. ShoreTel is able to have a hybrid approach to blend those together. Same use experience for the company. Same exact user experience across the entire company. We sell into 60 countries around the globe. Depending on what’s available and which country, you can pick either one or both.
Andrew: Very cool. Richard, on a personal note, you’ve been at ShoreTel for 17 plus years, one of the longest tenured people that are still there. This must be pretty cool from a product management perspective, to see these two worlds of premises and cloud now coming together and fulfilling that promise you guys always envisioned.
Richard: It is, Andrew. In fact, I joined ShoreTel 17-and-a-half years ago, and helped initiate the switch from traditional TDM PBX to VoIP. We’re doing it again now to UcaaS now from UC, and leading the chart, so two technology transitions of one company.
Andrew: Very cool, man. Something to be very proud of. Congratulations, my friend!
Richard: Thank you.
Andrew: Hey, thanks for really jumping in. I appreciate it. Guys, that’s Richard Winslow. He’s the Senior Director of Product Management for ShoreTel. Obviously, a long-time veteran in this space and somebody you can get really smart hanging out with. Check out the learning center here at the University, and go deep on the ShoreTel learning center. Lots of information there that can accelerate the growth of your cloud business, especially in the UCaaS arena. Love it, good stuff. Good selling.