ShoreTel logo
Newsletter Open Talk
Newsletter Open Talk

Ask Before You Buy: Microsoft Lync vs. ShoreTel

In its recent introduction of Lync 2010, the successor to Microsoft Office Communication Server (OCS), Microsoft declared the PBX dead. In the words of Mark Twain, the death of the PBX has been greatly exaggerated, although industry observers generally agree that Microsoft's latest iteration of UC is beginning to get serious attention.

With a revamped Lync entering the market, what questions should organizations ask when choosing between vendors in the unified communications space today?

What's the total cost of ownership (TCO)?

Before you purchase a business communication solution, you need to understand the total cost over the lifetime use of the system. The up-front purchase price of unified communications is estimated to be only about 25 percent of the total cost over the lifetime of the system. The majority of the cost lies in operations, and major contributing factors are ease of deployment and maintenance.

With Microsoft Lync, multiple server applications must be configured, administered, patched and upgraded, which can add significantly to the operational costs of the system.

What are your feature requirements, both now and upcoming?

In addition to your call control and messaging, determine what other products are needed to complete a UC solution, such as phones or additional components required for redundancy. ShoreTel experts believe that Microsoft's claims of low costs may be obscured by quoting the use of softphones and USB headsets, rather than IP phones that are more often used by customers.

With ShoreTel, you have the tools that form your business communications system, including voice routing, automated attendant, advanced telephony features, unified messaging, call accounting and reporting, and powerful workgroup routing.

ShoreTel requires only one headquarters server and one converged conferencing appliance for a complete UC solution.

The upfront costs of ShoreTel's brilliantly simple business communication solution are already among the lowest in the industry. When taking into account the low operational cost of a ShoreTel solution, the lower total cost of ownership of the ShoreTel solution relative to other vendors becomes crystal clear. ShoreTel guarantees the lowest TCO. Find out more about ShoreTel's TCO guarantee.

Assess the ease of deployment and upgrades.

It is well documented that deploying Microsoft OCS could be a lengthy and complicated process. Deploying Microsoft Lync continues this legacy as it requires a complex topology analysis using Microsoft's planning tools. This can be especially burdensome for small and midsize businesses, or even budget-strapped larger enterprises.

ShoreTel is designed for simple installation and deployment. It easily scales from 10 to more than 10,000 users. ShoreTel offers seamless upgrades with regular, predictable updates that you can plan in advance. Deploying ShoreTel requires only a single server and the switches are easy to deploy.

A centralized or decentralized architecture?

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

In contrast, ShoreTel has a distributed architecture that reduces reliance on the WAN. Intelligence is distributed at each location over ShoreTel's scalable architecture which increases reliability and scalability.

Is reliability built in?

Microsoft added call admission control, a core PBX function, to Lync. This capability controls how many calls can be made at any one time and ultimately it ensures that the quality of the calls is good and users can be productive. Who wouldn't agree that call control is important? ShoreTel has always had call control. Clearly, the PBX is alive and kicking!

Microsoft Lync is server-based with multiple cards and disk drives. Disk drives and moving parts are the most likely component to fail on any system. In contrast, ShoreTel voice switches are solid-state appliances with no disk drives and run on VxWorks, a real-time operating system. That makes them inherently reliable, with most models demonstrating a mean time between failure (MTBF) in excess of 500,000 hours (that's over 57 years!).

What about mobility?

Work is being redefined from the place you go to the place you are, and that's what makes mobility so important. Lync is expected to support Windows 7, Nokia and iPhones, but Microsoft has been silent about plans for supporting BlackBerry.

ShoreTel Communicator supports diverse environments, such as Web browsers, Windows, iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia mobile phones, and the list continues to grow.

ShoreTel Mobility gives workers the freedom to work anywhere, even beyond the wireless network. With ShoreTel Mobility, users can take advantage of next-generation mobility features and capabilities from their smartphones, which automatically use either the cellular, or Wi-Fi or wired network, as appropriate.

The ability to move seamlessly between wired and wireless networks is both convenient and cost-effective. Cost savings is a major benefit because the ShoreTel Mobility solution can dynamically route calls over the most cost-effective network. This allows businesses to reduce mobile and long-distance calling costs, especially international long distance and roaming charges.

What about the contact center?

Taking care of your customers is the number one priority for your business to be successful. When customers have questions about your product or service and call you, it is vital to give them the information that they need in a timely manner.

Microsoft Lync has limited contact center functionality with its Response Groups, and customers that need a full featured contact center must use a third-party product. ShoreTel offers a robust contact center solution either through ShoreTel Workgroup or ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center. Enterprise contact center provides advanced multimedia call center solutions that can be used to deliver calls to the right agents and services at the right time.

Should you be concerned about vendor complexity?

Who do you call when you have a problem? If you can’t answer this question, then your business could be in a lot of trouble. Dealing with multivendor solutions can be a nightmare and can often result in being given the runaround.

Lync is a software solution, which means that Microsoft relies on third-party vendors for phones and gateways, which may result in compatibility issues. We believe that troubleshooting, upgrades and patch management are also unnecessarily complicated as a result.

ShoreTel offers a complete integrated unified communications solution including a wide variety of phone models to choose from with full featured functionality.

Ask the experts.

But don't take our word for it. Microsoft is ranked below ShoreTel for IP telephony by leading analyst firms Gartner and Nemertes. Gartner gives ShoreTel its highest "Strong Positive" rating for unified communications. Nemertes also has given ShoreTel its highest rating among leading IP telephony vendors for seven years in a row.

For more information on how ShoreTel can help you replace your legacy phone system with modern IP-based unified communications, contact your local ShoreTel reseller today.

social twitter flicker linkin youtube digg delicious yahoo google