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Ten Reasons to Choose ShoreTel UC over Microsoft

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On November 17th, 2010, Microsoft launched Lync 2010, their latest unified communications offering. While Microsoft Lync is a vast improvement over their previous UC offering, Microsoft OCS 2007 R2, it still contains many shortcomings that we believe make ShoreTel the clear choice for UC for businesses of all sizes.

ShoreTel has reviewed the Microsoft Lync offering and has compiled a list of the Top Ten reasons we believe organizations should choose ShoreTel over Microsoft Lync.

1. Ease of upgrades

Microsoft Lync is complex to upgrade from OCS 2007 R2 to Lync and its future upgrade path is uncertain. ShoreTel offers seamless upgrades with regular updates.

2. Analyst Opinion

Microsoft is ranked below ShoreTel by leading analyst firms Gartner and Nemertes. Gartner gives ShoreTel its highest “Strong Positive” rating for unified communications, and Nemertes also has given ShoreTel its highest rating among leading IP telephony vendors for seven years in a row.

3. Experience with Voice

Microsoft is relatively new to voice, with about five years’ experience. ShoreTel has been focused on voice for the past 13 years.

4. Small Business Solution

Microsoft Lync seems complex to deploy and manage for small and midsize businesses. In our experience, Microsoft’s understanding of the SMB market is limited as evidenced by the end-of-life of their Response Point SMB offering in 2010. ShoreTel is designed for simple installation and deployment and easily scales from 10 to more than 10,000 users.

5. Vendor Complexity

Microsoft relies on third parties for phones and gateways and this may result in compatibility issues. In addition, troubleshooting may be confusing dealing with multiple vendors. ShoreTel offers a complete integrated unified communications solution including a wide variety of phone models to choose from with full featured functionality.

6. Ease of deployment

Microsoft Lync requires a complex topology analysis prior to deployment. ShoreTel requires only a single ShoreTel server with easy to deploy switches.

7. Call Control Reliability

Microsoft Lync is server based with multiple cards and disk drives. ShoreTel switches are solid state appliances with no disk drives.

8. Architecture

Microsoft Lync uses a centralized architecture that relies heavily on the wide area network (WAN) for call control traffic. WANs are often the least reliable component within a unified communications infrastructure deployment. ShoreTel has a distributed architecture that reduces reliance on the WAN.

9. Contact Center

Microsoft Lync has limited contact center functionality with their Response Groups. Full featured contact center requirements must be met by using a third party such as Aspect. ShoreTel offers a robust contact center solution either through ShoreTel Workgroups or ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center.

10. Total Cost of Ownership

Configuration and administration of multiple server applications is required. Microsoft’s true cost may be obscured by quoting use of softphones and USB headsets. ShoreTel requires only one HQ server and one converged conferencing server for a complete unified communications solution and ShoreTel has a lowest total cost of ownership guarantee program.

Microsoft Lync is expected to GA on December 1st, 2010. It will be interesting to see if businesses are willing to risk their voice needs with an unproven, complex solution such as Microsoft Lync.

The sure bet is to go with a solution from ShoreTel that has more than 13 years of experience in voice and has the reliability, availability, and all of the features that customers demand from an enterprise-grade unified communications solution.