ShoreTel adds to IP telephony line; Inter-Tel expands system capacity

* The future of unified communications

Today, we highlight two VoIP-related product announcements and point our readers to a free report on unified communications.

The first announcement comes from ShoreTel, which last week released upgrades to its IP telephony product line with ShoreTel 7. According to the company’s statement, ShoreTel 7 provides a single point of management, with feature transparency between enterprise locations. ShoreTel 7 enhancements are designed to simplify system administration, provide productivity-enhancing features on the desktop, and offer a higher-density switch chassis presented in a smaller physical footprint which improves total cost of ownership.

One of the key ShoreTel 7 enhancements is “Escalation Notification,” which allows the customer to establish a "must respond" process for incoming calls using business rules that automate call routing to phones, pagers, and e-mail devices, improving “reach me” capabilities to enhance customer service. ShoreTel 7 also provides integrated messaging for any PC desktop, including unified messaging with Microsoft Outlook. ShoreTel 7 is available now, and customers with ShoreTel maintenance contracts will receive a free upgrade.

In another product upgrade announcement, Inter-Tel disclosed its newest software release for its Axxess Converged Communications System. Axxess v10.0 expands system capacity from 63 nodes to 99 nodes and adds improved caller-ID and routing announcements. The enhancement is designed to boost flexibility for both existing deployments and opens the door for larger-scale business opportunities.

Finally, we’d like to point our readers to an excellent (and free) report on the state of unified communications. The report asks and answers the question “where will unified communications take us?” Peter Brockmann, the author of this report, is a 20-year industry veteran and heads up a consulting and advisory firm serving equipment and application vendors, and service providers. He concludes that “the future of unified communications promises unprecedented choices in technology innovations from a wide array of vendors and their channels.” His analysis details where the market stands relative to important user buying criteria.

Looks to us like Peter is right — and the abundance of recent product enhancements to IP telephony systems that improve VoIP and unified communications seem to further validate his research.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.