ShoreTel Partner Conference - Quick Highlights

Thursday was the core day for ShoreTel's 2012 Partner Conference, and they sure covered a lot of ground. In short, the event gets bigger and better - over 1,300 here - mostly channel partners, who seem very happy to be here. There are about 25 analysts here, and for the first time, they've also invited consultants, who also number about 25.

Lots of good messaging here, and the ShoreTel story is pretty strong. Still not making money, but basically, they're investing in growth, and if things go to plan, the profits will come. There are three key areas where that investment is happening - first, building the Sky brand, which takes both time and money. They still need to build out their cloud footprint for North America with full 1:1 redundancy, and in time, to support global customers. The upside for cloud was clearly articulated here, and if you buy into that, they're on the right track. Perhaps more importantly, they have rightly noted that the cloud market is highly fragmented and up for grabs, so there's no reason why ShoreTel cannot emerge as a market leader, or even the market leader.

Second is their investment in the channel, and we heard about new programs that are coming to help partners sell both cloud and premise. This is new territory and will take time to mature for sure, but at least this gives partners a chance to address the entire IP telephony opportunity. Premise business is on a slow growth curve, and that's where the market is today; cloud is the fast growth market, and by 2015, they expect it will be 42% of the market.

Third is R&D, and we saw some new things that look pretty cool. We can't talk about the details yet, but let's just say their mobility story is catching up to the market, and the partners clearly liked what they saw. They're also moving along in the areas of virtualization, contact center and video, and it's fair to say they've moved well beyond being a low cost IP phone vendor for SMBs.

That's all I have time to write about for now, but will have a longer recap coming early next week on the UCStrategies portal, so look for that then. Otherwise, as usual, here are some photos from yesterday.

Who is this lady? Pretty campy, but fun, working the crowd with corny jokes. If you weren't here, nevermind...

CEO Peter Blackmore
 David Petts, SVP WW Sales
Dan Hoffman, new title: President and GM, Cloud Division (ShoreTel Sky)
Pej Roshan, VP Product Management