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New ShoreTel release targets the fast-paced distributed enterprise, speeding calls to the right people regardless of location

Foreign-language editions and legacy-integration enhancements support global operations and simplify VoIP migration
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SUNNYVALE, Calif.,February 7, 2005 - ShoreTel Inc., the innovation leader in enterprise IP telephony, today announced new features that enhance productivity and ease of use across multiple locations for distributed enterprises. Additional capabilities in ShoreTel5 Release 2 include foreign-language editions supporting the international offices of global enterprises and expanded legacy integration for easier VoIP migration.

Coming on the heels of ShoreTel's resounding repeat win in Nemertes Research's annual VoIP benchmark, the new release demonstrates that ShoreTel is not resting on its leadership laurels. ShoreTel5 Release 2 has been enhanced at every level, from architecture and management to the hardware and software that provide an unparalleled user interface.

ShoreTel's unique distributed architecture extends the power of the new features to every office across the enterprise, keeping employees fully connected wherever they go. Flexible hunt group and "whisper" page functions lead the new features that empower users and workgroups and boost productivity. New foreign-language editions and support for regional idiosyncrasies deliver an international solution to global enterprises. And already outstanding legacy integration capabilities got even better with new configuration and migration options.

"ShoreTel5 Release 2 ensures that revenue-generating calls and other key communications are more likely to reach the right person quickly, regardless of their location" said ShoreTel President and CEO John W. Combs. "With other phone systems, the great majority of business calls end up in voice mail or get bounced around ineffectively, which can irritate or alienate the caller. Thanks to ShoreTel's distributed computing architecture, the new hunt group and whisper page features can put the right people together now, providing a powerful tool for today's dynamic, fast-paced business offices."

Greater Productivity for Distributed Enterprises

Expanded hunt group capabilities in ShoreTel5 Release 2 support more flexible and targeted call flows that enable more efficient resource utilization-especially in dynamic, service-oriented offices. Calls are answered more quickly by the right person, regardless of geographic location, and voice mail is more likely to land in the right spot. With such a voice system, businesses can achieve much higher levels of customer service. For instance, calls into a branch office of a loan company can hunt to other regional offices to ensure "money" calls are handled.

This enhancement is the result of an architectural change that moved the hunt groups from a centralized server into the individual ShoreGear switches residing at each site. This shift allows for more flexible call flows and also builds in additional fault tolerance so that if the WAN link to the central site goes down, hunt group functionality within individual offices is unimpaired.

"We had one outage where the ShoreTel hunt group capability saved us because it is on a local switch rather than on a centralized server," said Jim Schroeder, IT Manager at Peterbilt Pacific Inc. "Also, being able to page via the phone is very helpful because it would have been too costly to deploy a special switch for paging in several buildings."

A new group paging feature makes it even more likely that calls will get answered in a timely fashion. It is more cost-effective and less disruptive than overhead paging systems, and also works across multiple locations. When a user initiates a page to a group by dialing the group extension or clicking on it from the Personal Call Manager (PCM) interface, IP phones of recipients automatically go off-hook regardless of branch office location. This provides callers with quick access to the right resources across a distributed enterprise. For instance, a sales person at an auto parts store could page other parts stores in the area simultaneously for assistance.

The bottom line is that money is lost when calls aren't answered right away, and a new whisper page feature takes paging a step further by enabling it to break into an ongoing conversation. When a critical call comes in while an executive is on the phone, an assistant can alert the executive by initiating a whisper page via the phone keypad or PCM menu. This whisper page conduit allows for rapid communication and is particularly useful in dynamic sales environments and service-oriented applications.

The auto-attendant in ShoreTel5 Release 2 supports more granular deployment to meet the specific needs of offices within an organization and further ensure that customers get in touch with the right employee or department. Widely distributed enterprises have a single-system view of the entire phone system, and can still deliver customized quick-touch response capabilities to dynamic local branches. For example, when people calling a branch office use the dial-by-name feature, the search can be limited to the subset of employees in that location instead of wading through the entire organizational directory.

Callbacks are streamlined by a new feature that can be used to separate outbound caller ID information from the DID number of the extension used to place the call. For example, calls made by multiple employees within a group can display a single DID number and company or department name to ensure that callbacks go directly to the right place. This prevents them from ending up in the individual voice mail box of someone who subsequently took sick or left on vacation. And the feature works between sites, so that even if the employee moves between locations, or is teleworking from home for part of the day, the correct call back number is still delivered.

A new Automatic Message Forwarding feature increases productivity and responsiveness to customers worldwide by providing automatic forwarding of voice mail. For instance, when an executive goes on vacation, the assistant can receive his/her voice mail and ensure critical issues are handled. Also, when an employee departs, the customer calling can get the familiar, expected voice mail greeting but the actual message is forwarded to another employee who can return the call.

Supporting Distributed Enterprises with International Offices

Language can be one of the barriers to organizations with offices in the non-English-speaking world, so ShoreTel5 Release 2 is multilingual. In addition to U.S. English, all the user-facing products in the system have been localized and are now available in German and Castilian Spanish. These include all versions of the Call Manager application; the voice mail, auto-attendant, and workgroup system prompts; and the user documentation.

Other new features aimed at international operations are caller-ID and message-waiting support for analog phones, CE marks on ShoreGear hardware indicating conformity with a common set of European regulations, and localized tones and cadences for ShoreTel's revolutionary line of IP phones.

"Between work and home, today's users and IT professionals have more instruction manuals than they could read in a lifetime, even assuming they are in the right language," said Combs. "The trend is to make things simpler, which is even more critical in the international environment. With ShoreTel5 Release 2, we continue to chip away at any remaining barriers keeping businesses from the benefits of convergence."

Legacy Integration

The ShoreTel system was designed from the outset with incremental migration in mind, and has always offered unmatched legacy integration. Such capabilities provide additional incremental-migration options for enterprises that need to leave traditional PBXs or an existing voice mail system in place for the time being.

In ShoreTel5 Release 2, support for the Simplified Message Desk Interface (SMDI) enables the ShoreTel voice mail application to work with most traditional PBX platforms. Businesses can eliminate multiple voice mail systems and provision advanced features such as unified messaging today, while setting the stage for full VoIP migration in the future.

These additional mix-and-match capabilities round out ShoreTel's migration options. Customers could already choose to migrate to IP telephony site by site, integrating the new ShoreTel system to the old PBX sites via tie lines, and letting old and new voice mail systems coexist and interoperate via the Audio Messaging Interchange Specification (AMIS).

Businesses can make broader use of existing Ethernet cabling with a new version of the IP210 phone, to which ShoreTel has added an integrated Ethernet switch. The IP210 can now be daisy-chained to a PC, with both devices supported by a single wire to the desktop.

Pricing and Availability

ShoreTel5 Release 2 will be available in March 2005. New systems typically range from $650 to $850 per user depending on configuration. Existing customers with support agreements receive this system upgrade at no cost. The suggested retail price for additional language packs is $995. The ShorePhone IP210 is available for immediate shipment at a list price of $249. ShoreTel products and services are available exclusively through authorized ShoreTel channel partners around the world.

About ShoreTel, Inc.

ShoreTel is the fastest growing IP PBX company in the United States and the leader in customer satisfaction. The company has shipped its groundbreaking solutions since 1998 and continues to outpace the rapidly expanding VoIP market with technological advances and sales that are doubling year over year. ShoreTel voice systems are designed to make businesses smarter, setting new standards for usability and manageability while reducing telecommunications costs. A uniquely distributed architecture extends enterprise-class voice services to every office and outpost, keeping employees fully connected wherever they go. A select, worldwide group of channel partners provide top-notch service and support. For more information, visit http://www.shoretel.com or call 1-877-80SHORE