Back in 2012, ShoreTel acquired M5 Networks to gain control of a cloud service for delivering unified communications that worked across several classes of IP phones and applications. Today, ShoreTel is announcing that the phones it rechristened ShoreTel Sky now include IP phones made by ShoreTel.
Bernard Gutnick, senior director of product marketing for ShoreTel, says that with the addition of support for ShoreTel phones, ShoreTel Sky now supports a full range of IP communications services via everything from third-party IP phones from Cisco to softphones that are embedded in a variety of devices. In addition, ShoreTel Sky also exposes RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) through which applications such as Salesforce.com can be integrated with ShoreTel Sky.
As unified communications in the cloud continue to mature, what is not so clear is how much people will rely on handsets versus voice capabilities that have been embedded in a device or an application. Gutnick says that, for now at least, support for unified communications within a device or application is supplemental to the use of handsets that are deeply engrained within most office cultures.
Adoption of unified communications has never lived up to expectations. Increased reliance on the cloud to deliver these services should increase usage. But it may very well turn out that, for example, location-based services will see a lot more usage once they are embedded in an application than they do today.
ShoreTel, of course, isn’t the only provider of communications services in the cloud to figure this out. In the meantime, however, the rise of unified communications services in the cloud that are accessible via APIs does mean that those traditional PBX systems that so many businesses rely on today just became that much more arcane.