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The Virtualized Reality of Unified Communications

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A growing number of businesses are considering a virtualized unified communications environment.

By virtualizing UC applications, businesses can increase server utilization while reducing hardware, operating and administration costs. However, while many UC vendors support virtualization, few of these vendors offer a solution that maximizes the benefits of a virtualized environment. Most vendors take a rigid approach to virtualization, which imposes additional costs on customers while mitigating the benefits of improved server utilization.

Cisco, for example, imposes strict guidelines on UC virtualization hardware.

In order to deploy virtualized UC applications, Cisco customers must adhere to a complex hardware compatibility matrix that excludes many third party server platforms as well as Cisco platforms such as the MCS 7800, UCS Express, and UCS E-Series. These hardware restrictions make it difficult for Cisco customers to leverage existing hardware for virtualized UC deployments, thereby reducing the potential for improving server utilization and eliminating a key benefit of virtualization.

Avaya, which introduced virtualization support with IP Office 9.0, imposes similar restrictions on its customers.

Avaya’s IP Office 500 v2 hardware is not supported in virtualized IP Office deployments, except in a limited capacity as a gateway. As a result, IP Office customers migrating to a virtualized environment will need to purchase additional server primary and secondary service hardware, adding significant costs to the virtualization process.

In comparison, with ShoreTel 14.2, customers can virtualize ShoreTel Voice Switches using a broad selection of industry standard servers. This enables ShoreTel customers to leverage existing hardware to maximize server utilization and benefit from a dramatically reduced server footprint. ShoreTel also ensures that a customer’s existing investment in ShoreTel Voice Switches is protected. ShoreTel Voice Switches can be used in a virtualized environment for redundancy, branch connectivity, and/or PSTN connectivity.

Businesses should be aware that not all virtualized unified communications solutions are the same. A solution that lacks flexibility or imposes unnecessary restrictions on customers can eliminate many of the benefits of virtualization. Conversely, a flexible solution like ShoreTel 14.2 provides customers with a wealth of deployment options and allows these customers to leverage existing investments in UC equipment. Only a solution like ShoreTel will allow businesses to fully benefit from a virtualized UC environment.

For more information, watch a short webinar about ShoreTel 14.2.