Mitel Updates SMB PortfolioBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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The latest step in the continuing Mitel/Inter-Tel consolidation merges the best of both companies' applications and creates a winning solution for VARs.
Robert Handel, vice president of sales at telecommunications provider and integrator Cortel, is always looking for a reason to upsell his company's existing customers with new opportunities. Now he has that reason, as Mitel has announced a consolidated SMB UC (unified communications) portfolio as well as a managed services offering, Total Solutions.
"At their annual partner conference in January, they said they wanted to take the best of the best [applications] from Inter-Tel and support those on Mitel and vice versa, and it's great that they are delivering on that," says Handel. Now, with close to a thousand clients from both the former Inter-Tel and Mitel customer base, Handel says the feature enhancements will be a great opportunity for him.
"They took Mitel's flagship IT product and Inter-Tel's Web conferencing application and now they're cross-pollinating," he says, offering telecomm providers and integrators like his company the ability to sell a broader solution portfolio both to existing customers and to new ones.
Asif Rehman, director of solutions marketing at Mitel, says the enhancements are the last steps in the consolidation process that began when Mitel and Inter-Tel merged in August 2007. Now, Rehman says, channel partners have access to the best products from both companies, along with significant feature enhancements.
The Mitel Application Suite version 1.1 is targeted specifically for the SMB market, says Rehman, and is compatible with the Mitel 3300 ICP (IP Communications Platform).
The focus was on making the product easy to install, deploy and manage without the need for a small business to employ a specially trained IT team or devote dedicated management.
The Mitel Application suite offers a tunneling solution that customers can use with either a hard or soft IP phone. The phone can be plugged into any broadband connection worldwide and provide full business connectivity regardless of location, says Rehman. Mitel's Teleworker mobility application allows for a single identity, so that one call will ring a user's office, home, cell or mobile device numbers so they can be reached at any location. Unified messaging, and an automated speech attendant are also included. Incorporating Inter-Tel's audio and Web conferencing application packs an extra punch, says Rehman, as distributed businesses can conduct meetings, phone conferences and even meet with outside clients as if they were in the same office.
"The audio and Web conferencing capabilities came from Inter-Tel and was a very mature application," says Kevin Johnson, Mitel's director of Analyst and consultant relations. "We have integrated that into the Mitel Application suite, so the channel gets the benefit of having both full-blown applications in the same product," he says.
One of the biggest benefits of Mitel's SMB offering is the fact that all this functionality can be housed on a single server, rather than spread out numerous servers for data, voice and other applications, says Rehman, and can be managed under a single console.
"There's huge power savings when you consolidate all these applications onto a single server, and you also save money and energy if you're letting employees telecommute and collaborate cross-country," he says.
The Mitel 5000 Network Communications System platform also gets some upgrades with release 2.4, says Rehman, including new 5200- and 5300-series hardware phone that can plug into any gigabit Ethernet port and become a GigE phone. There's also a wireless LAN stand that can convert any phone into a wireless IP phone and serve as an access point to extend or provide new wireless capability even in areas that previously didn't have it, says Rehman.
To round out the enhancements, Rehman and Johnson say Mitel's Total Solution Managed Service offerings are a great option for SMBs that want to focus on acquiring and retaining customers, rather than worrying about their communication platform. The managed service provides soup-to-nuts coverage, says Rehman, including not only the unified communications portions of customers' networks but also traditional data networks.
"We provide the communications system, they pay a monthly fee and everything is taken care of for them. We'll also take care of any consulting they need, to find out if network upgrades are necessary," Rehman says.
"The Total Solutions managed service is a terrific sales vehicle in addition to the typical purchase model. We can offer both the traditional services and now a managed service, hosted services, network services and also a specific financing package," says Johnson.
The new enhancements are available now, and Johnson says he expects the company's great growth will continue to be driven through the channel.
In January, Mitel announced it would extend a component of Inter-Tel's channel program, the Exclusive Business Partner program. Then there were about 30 partners signed up for the program. But in just six months, Johnson says that number has quadrupled to about 120, and it keeps growing. There are about 1,500 worldwide Mitel channel partners, he says.
Find out more about Mitel's Exclusive Business Partner program here.