ShoreTel began as a new start-up in 1996 with an offering that has been built from the ground up to support IP-based unified communications (UC). An advantage it has over many of its rivals is that it hasn't gathered the baggage associated with technology acquisitions to beef up product functionality or having to retro-fit IP capabilities to traditional PBXs. On the downside it lacks the financial clout available to larger vendors for marketing and R&D spend, although it benefits from a recent and successful IPO. The company has also demonstrated consistent profitability and positive cash flow giving it a strong, debt-free, balance sheet.
ShoreTel has an innovative approach to providing UC solutions based around its distributed ShoreGear voice switches. Its unified product offering is founded on its core strengths in IP telephony and Unified Messaging (UM), with integrated options covering mobility, desk-top video and web-based collaboration.
Although it's much smaller than its more well known rivals such as Cisco, Mitel, Nortel etc, it's a company that punches above its weight in many ways, putting out a strong challenge to the established market leaders in the areas of ease of use, cost of ownership, resilience and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. The company also has a strong story to tell on the power efficiency of its equipment, although it's been less active than its competitors in 'green-washing' its products.