Caleb Barlow on IBM's UC in a Box for SMBs

2 Aug 2010
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In this Executive Insights podcast, Blair Pleasant of UCStrategies is joined by Caleb Barlow, Director Small Business Solutions, IBM Software Group, to talk about IBM Foundations and how IBM is working with ShoreTel and others to provide "UC in a box" for SMBs.

Blair Pleasant: Hi. This is Blair Pleasant with COMMfusion and UCStrategies.com. I'm at the ShoreTel Champions Partner Conference in Carlsbad, California. And with me is Caleb Barlow. Caleb is Director of Small Business Solutions for the IBM Software Group. And we've been hearing a lot about this IBM Foundations and how they're going to be working with ShoreTel. So, Caleb, welcome, and tell us about IBM Foundations and what it is that you're doing with ShoreTel.

Caleb Barlow: Sure-thanks, Blair. So basically what we've done is we've taken the IT environment that you'd find in a small or mid-sized business and rather than approaching this with a traditional server approach, we've actually brought this to an appliance. So think much more analogous to your TiVo or DVR or cable modem than traditional server. So there's no monitor. There's no keyboard. There's no DVD drive. And it's all managed remotely over the wire by a business partner, such as a ShoreTel business partner.

The integration with ShoreTel is the first time that we have, working with a partner, released a telephony solution fully integrated with this appliance. Now I guess the other thing I should add here is we use a technology called server side autonomics that-a big fancy word there. And what this does is literally stands up the environment and manages many of the day-to-day administrative tasks. So in the case of ShoreTel, it literally deploys the ShoreTel solution, configures the ShoreTel phone switch, adds users, adds their extensions, and manages a lot of things that you normally have to do. So this allows your administrators to be able to, first of all, work remotely so they don't have to get in the car to maintain these environments. But also really reduces the skill level and the amount of time required to maintain them.

Blair Pleasant: What capabilities does IBM provide? And what capabilities does ShoreTel provide?

Caleb Barlow: Great question. ShoreTel provides all of the telephony pieces that they have been known for for many years. And what we combine on top of that is the general IT environment and the platform to manage all of this. So when you bring these two things together, it's truly a one plus one equals four or five here, because what you get is all the benefits you normally get from a ShoreTel solution plus the benefits of IBM Foundations. But the real secret here is they're both fully integrated out of the box.

Blair Pleasant: So for people who aren't too familiar with Foundations, what are some of the capabilities and functionality?

Caleb Barlow: The Foundations appliance out of the box: it's a file server, print server, web server, mail server, anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall, VPN, you get the idea. Now any individual deployment doesn't necessarily have to use all of these functions. They could use some of them, parts of them, none of them. In addition, it also provides a full hypervisor environment so that if someone wants to run something like a Microsoft Windows application for example, they can also consolidate their Windows servers on this appliance, as well.

Blair Pleasant: I understand you're doing a kind of different distribution model and you're using ScanSource sort of as the middle man. Can you talk about that a little?

Caleb Barlow: One of the things we really wanted to make sure we dealt with in this particular scenario is this only works if, not only is the solution simple, but also the way you order and process that order and get support for it is just as simple if you're a reseller. So this is where ScanSource steps in. They can make sure that they've got the inventory on hand, that any pre-integration work that may be necessary for a particular customer is done, and they can also make sure that they provide comprehensive support and training for the resellers whether they're coming from an IBM heritage, a ShoreTel heritage, or from somewhere else. So they're really the glue that brings all of this together.

Blair Pleasant: So if somebody needs support, they'll go to their reseller first. And then the reseller will go to ScanSource.

Caleb Barlow: Correct.

Blair Pleasant: Can you talk about how the solution with ShoreTel is different from how partners like Mitel and NEC are also working with IBM Foundations?

Caleb Barlow: As IBM, we want to maintain an open relationship with all of our partners. ShoreTel is the first to have a solution available, but we have publicly announced that we're also working on similar capabilities with Mitel, NEC, and BroadSoft.

Blair Pleasant: And can you talk a little bit about how they're different? From my understanding, some of them are based in the appliance; others are based on their server.

Caleb Barlow: I don't want to go into a whole lot of detail on the individual features and functions because they're not all out the door yet. But I think the biggest thing, if you think about kind of the different plays, you have a two-appliance approach. A good example of that is ShoreTel. And one of the nice things about that approach, of course, is if anything goes wrong on the Foundation's appliance, your phones still continue to operate. Another approach is more of an inside approach where the telephony solution may be all software, and it's all running inside the Foundations appliance. A nice benefit of that approach, of course, is you have one less piece of hardware to buy. And then really the third approach, which is where you start to see someone like a BroadSoft is where the telephony solution is hosted off in the cloud, so really a true hybrid scenario where you've got the on premise IT, but then you've got the off premise management of the telephony solution.

Blair Pleasant: Great. And can you talk a little bit about what's next and what's on the road map?

Caleb Barlow: One of the things that I'm aggressively doing is we're out there recruiting hundreds and eventually thousands of new applications of this platform. And it's not just we want apps to run on the platform. That's the easy part, but it's not as interesting. What we really want to do is have full and complete solutions particularly in certain vertical industries. This is where you're going to really see us focus: what is the collection of applications, whether they come from IBM or ShoreTel or many others, to have on a full complete solution for a particular vertical.

Blair Pleasant: And can you talk a little bit about Foundation Reach?

Caleb Barlow: Foundation Reach is the underlying componentry that ShoreTel leveraged to create ShoreTel for Foundations. For those people that may be familiar either IBM Sametime, this is effectively Sametime fully automated on an appliance, and targeted towards the lower end of the market.

Blair Pleasant: So it's IT and UCC in a box?

Caleb Barlow: You got it.

Blair Pleasant: Great. Well thank you so much for spending time with me. I appreciate it.

Mr. Barlow: Thanks, Blair. I appreciate that you spending time with me as well.

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