Mitel today announced an acquisition of ShoreTel valued at $430 million that signals a shift in how communications and collaboration software is being consumed in the enterprise.
Mitel CEO Rich McBee says that while unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platforms have gained traction in recent years with smaller companies, it’s only been in the last year that larger organizations have begun to deploy UCaaS platforms on a private cloud in earnest. The acquisition of ShoreTel serves to strengthen the Mitel UCaaS portfolio at the right time, says McBee. In its latest financial results, announced today, Mitel noted that the number of recurring cloud seats using its existing software grew by 77,000 during the quarter to now stand at 665,000 seats in total.
In terms of competition, McBee says, Mitel is well aware of rival services provided by everyone from Microsoft to Cisco. But McBee says there’s still a world of difference between internet-quality communications and collaboration software and telephony quality. In fact, McBee notes that most of the communications and collaboration services being invoked today are hardly unified. At best, they are bundles of disjointed services, says McBee. The opportunity for Mitel is to truly unify all those services via a common set of application programming interfaces (APIs).
“We’re passionate about providing all those experiences,” says McBee.
Most enterprise IT organizations, adds McBee, are looking for a high-quality experience delivered via a private cloud running in a data center that most likely will be managed by a third-party provider. McBee says Mitel has no interest in owning those data centers. But Mitel does expect more UCaaS platforms being deployed inside a managed hosting environment.
Unified communications and collaboration software represent one of the single biggest opportunities to advance productivity. Achieving that goal, however, has proven to be maddeningly frustrating for almost everyone involved.