ShoreTel ECC Abandoned Call – Call Back and Dial List applications!

The ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center has several features that are often confused: Abandoned Call, Call Back and Dial Lists. Thought the features are somewhat similar, they work in different applications and not all for these features are available in the basic Contact Center. The ShoreTel ECC uses the concept of a service to encapsulate the handling of an incoming phone call. Generally the Service includes Groups, which include Agents, but groups can encompass other call actions. For example, a Service can contain a “script” that prompts the caller for DTMF input or calls on a SQL query to search an external database The Service also provides instructions for how queue messages are to be played to the caller.

Abandoned Call back enables the system to recognize that a caller was in queue but hung up before being serviced. The ShoreTel ECC can capture the Caller ID and then return the call! Typically an Agent is “reserved” before the outbound call is placed, the call is dialed and then transferred to the agent. It is also possible to play a pre-recorded message to the called party before the call is transferred to the agent, but there are reasons that you might not want to do this.

Let’s make a modification to our queue service to hold the caller and after a period of time, offer the caller an option to bail out. This is where the “Call Back” feature comes in. ShoreTel enables you to create a “script” that can not only prompt the caller to enter a return telephone, but also offer the caller the option to schedule a particular date and time for the call back. This is a very useful option for callers that have a “help me, teach me, show me” request but not at a level of urgency that would inspire them to sit on hold for an extended period of time.

The “dial list” feature of the ShoreTel ECC usually works in conjunction with a database dip. Lets take a typical credit and collection application. The ShoreTel ECC can access a database of delinquent clients, obtain the phone number of the client, dial the client and pass that call to an Agent that has been reserved by the system to handle this type of call. The system also provides for the option of updating the client record with a completion status for further database processing.

The ShoreTel ECC is an exciting application that can be used in the small to medium sized “contact center” environment to enhance functionality, increase productivity dramatically scale the functionality of an already powerful VoIP solution. (Note ShoreTel ECC and Contact Center have been used interchangeably in this blog! The ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center is a superset of the ShoreTel Contact Center and feature content may vary between the two versions).

Add ShoreTel Extension Lists to your Automated Attendant

Extension Lists are a unique solution for a variety of challenges in the Call Flow War! Does your Automated Attendant have a “spell by name” directory? Does the CEO want to be listed in the spell by name directory? In ShoreTel it is easy enough to disable a name from appearing in the directory, but what about that nasty ability to take action on the famous “if you know your parties four digit extension number, dial it at any time during this greeting….”. Think about it, anybody can bounce around the company telephone system after they hear that announcement! Sooner or later they may even find the CEO! So what is to be done about this possibility? In ShoreTel, you can create Extension Lists.These lists can be used for setting up paging groups, but they can also be used in the Automated Attendant.When setting up the Automated Attendant you have a drop down list of each of the digits and the ability to define what should happen when someone pushes that digit(i.e. send to a menu, transfer to an extension, take a message).There is a special entry list that includes what to do if the caller “Time Out”; or “invalid entry” or hits “multiple digits”.Typically, this last option: “multiple digits”, is set through the drop down menu to “Transfer to Extension” echoing the digits the caller entered.If look at the right of that drop down list, similar to the other menu items, you can click and select an Extension List!How wonderful!You can actually create a list of extensions that the caller can dial and limit the digits that the Automated Attendant accepts to only the extensions on that list!This assures that the caller will not accidentally hit the extension that activates the overhead paging system or ring the CEO’s office!

ShoreTel AA drop down list!

Admission Bandwidth Control?

In a VoIP environment the WAN circuit is generally engineered to handle X phone calls of a specific codec. For example you might plan out a circuit that supports 10 simultaneous phone calls across the WAN between sites. You select the G711 codec and plan each phone call at 82KPS per call. This would require that there be a minimum of 820KB of bandwidth available or approximately 55% of a full T span. Given that the WAN connection also supports data applications, we want to assure that Voice does not take all available bandwidth! Interestingly when people complain about the bad quality of a VoIP call, it is generally the result of exceeding a bandwidth limitation, If you engineered the circuit for 10 calls, when the 11th call is placed, not just that phone call is trashed, but all 11 phone calls are destroyed! For this reason VoIP systems in general and ShoreTel in particular have strategies for limiting the number of calls across the WAN. In ShoreTel there is a parameter entitled “Admission Control Bandwidth” located in the Sites definition in the ShorewareDirector administrative web portal. This parameter assures that a call will not be set up between this site and another site, if that phone call would exceed the bandwidth setting. This generally eliminates the 11th phone call on a circuit designed for 10 simultaneous phone calls! ShoreTel switches or media gateways, know about the bandwidth they would consume when setting up a phone call and can take action based on this ACB parameter. We need to apply solid WAN engineering practices to the circuit planning however, as the ShoreTel switches will not know if that bandwidth is actually available! So it is possible that the ABC parameter will allow a call to be setup, but bandwidth may not actually be available as other data applications might be consuming more than planned bandwidth at that point in time. For this reason, we need to prioritize voice and data with queuing strategies in our WAN routers, the subject of yet another blog!

Is the Economy good for VoIP?

Has the economy hit VoIP? My thinking is that it has and in a very positive way for both integrators and voip service providers. Throughout my career I have always been amazed at the number of traditional key telephone systems sold into the small business segment of the telephone equipment market place. If you added up the numbers as published by the publically reporting companies in this segment, extrapolated an average SBE equipment size requirement you would conclude that every man, woman and child in this country already owns a telephone system! So where do all the new SBE phone system come from? Having said that, this number is getting harder to calculate as the companies that you could track in this segment (e.g.. Vodavi, Comdial, etc) have morphed into something else and generally as a direct result of the increasing acceptance of VoIP in that market segment (e.g. Covad, Packet8, Vonage et. Al). The economy even when it contracts, causes companies that survive to change their shape and size. We have witnessed a growing demand for companies seeking to spin off a branch office as a standalone business. If you have a CISCO Call Manager, for example, and you were running SRST at the branch office, we are servicing requests to convert the branch to a standalone CCME. Business Partnerships dissolve, the partners create new entities and split a perfectly good ShoreTel IPBX in two! Service providers in general, seem to be showing increases in VoIP revenue segments, specifically in the SIP environment. Cbeyond (CBEY) seems to be trading at near its 52 week high. Generally, my thinking is that VoIP is a good place to be no matter which way the economy moves!

How to backup your ShoreTel IPBX!

Prior to version 7 of  ShoreTel, backing up your ShoreTel system was very straight forward. There was a single folder in the root directory named d:\ Shoreline data. This folder contained all the information that was required to completely restore your ShoreTel system from a bare metal server in the event of a major disaster. The folder contained the configuration database, which at the time was kept in Microsoft Access. It also contained all of your recorded prompts for Automated Attendant, your voice mail messages, all of your Call Detail Records and softswitch related information. You could easily identify this one folder and make it a part of your normal system backup process for your company. With the introduction of Version 7 of ShoreTel the company began to migrate away from the Microsoft Access database and move toward the MySQL database. First they moved the Call Detail Records and with Version 8, the entire configuration database had migrated to MySQL. For this reason the database backup process for a ShoreTel system has changed. The process must now include the backup of two MySQL databases and the aforementioned Shoreline data folder. ShoreTel does provide a few BAT file examples of how you might do this, but if you want to automate the process complete with a schedule you will want to consider using some other tools. We recommend the use of SQLyog and include a copy on every server that we support or install (just another reason to have DrVoIP do your ShoreTel maintenance). Send an email request to and we will send you a tech note that details this process or you can watch this silent video linked below!

How to Backup a ShoreTel IPBX Version 7+

Your ShoreTel Provider – What does it take to implement VoIP!

If you ask your average IT professional what a T span is, the usual response will be that it is a 1.5MB connection to the internet. Ask your average telecom tech what a T span is and you will be told it is 24 channels of dial tone! As a VoIP Engineer what a T span is and you should get the answer:, “what do you want it to be”? One of the great challenges of implementing a VoIP solution is the absolute requirement that the implementation team possess an interdisciplinary skill set. The solution demands expertise in a range of specialized skills including IP network, switching, routing, supplementary telephony services , server technology management and application call flow integration. If the user group is going to fully realize the benefits of a VoIP implementation, then each of these specialized areas of technology are going to be necessary to a successful deployment. Traditional telephony vendors are comfortable with all things TDM. They like to punch things down on 66 blocks and use “butt sets” to test for “dial tone”. Network professionals have their area of comfort as to Microsoft or Linux server professionals. Call Center professionals understand caller greeting, salutation, screening, call routing, message acquisition and message retrieval at the application level, but seldom understand the underlying technology. At the end of the day, you can shop the internet and find out who can sell you a shiny new telephone thing cheaper, but finding a team that can execute the delivery of a VoIP solution is worthy of the time you would invest selecting a new CFO! You need to work with a team that can demonstrate proficiency in each of the required discipline and accept responsibility for every aspect of the implementation. From concept to “go live”, the voip solution provider you select  must know the difference between a “dress rehearsal” and a “take”.

760 Area Code Change to 442 – San Diego


Who Will be Affected? All customers with a 760 number will have to change the way they dial. The new 442 area code will serve new customers in the same geographic region as the current 760 area code, which extends from Bridgeport in the north, south to the Mexican border, Camp Pendleton on the west, and east to the state line.

What Will be the New Dialing Procedure? To complete calls from a landline phone, the new dialing procedure requires callers to dial 1 + area code + telephone number. This means that all calls in the 760 area code that are currently dialed with seven digits will need to be dialed using 1+ area code + telephone number.

When Will the Change Begin? Beginning May 2, 2009 … you should begin using the new dialing procedure whenever you place a call from the 760 area code. If you forget and use the old dialing procedure of dialing just seven digits, your call will still be completed.

Beginning October 24, 2009 … you must use the new dialing procedure for all calls. If you do not use the new dialing procedure, your call will not be completed, and a recording will instruct you to hang up and dial again.

Beginning November 21, 2009… new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers with the 442 area code.

What Will You Need to Do? In addition to changing your dialing procedure, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed with a 7-digit telephone number will need to be reprogrammed to use the new dialing procedure. Some examples are life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Be sure to check your business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included.

What Will Remain the Same?

· Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.

· What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.

· The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.

· You can still dial just three digits to reach 911, as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 and 811.

Who May You Contact with Questions?
contact for assistance in programming any changes to your ShoreTel phone system!

What is a ShoreTel DVM and why do I need one?

What exactly is the value of a Distributed Voice Mail Server (e.g. DVM)?   What are the pro’s and con’s of installing one?  Does it have any impact on resiliency (not redundancy) as it relates to business continuity in the event of server failures?  ShoreTel has a distributed architecture but like all other VoIP solutions there is only one “read/write” database and that is a component of the ShoreTel architecture aptly named the HQ server.   IF this server goes down and the R/W database is unavailable configuration changes can not be made throughout the “single image” installation.

Installing a DVM at the same level, or in the same site as the HQ server, provides a high degree of resiliency at comparatively low cost.     At the HQ site, put all your HQ users on a DVM.   If the DVM goes down, the HQ will pick up the heavy lifting for the Users on the DVM.  If the HQ goes down, the DVM users will still have VM and AA services.  As of today, there are three services, however,  that are NOT distributed in the ShoreTel architecture. These services are known as Workgroups, Route Points; and Account codes.   If you lose the HQ server, you will lose these services for all sites, even if they have a DVM installed at that site!

As it relates to low cost business continuity options, we like to install a DVM at the HQ site, but we want all switches at all sites to be managed by the HQ server.   This usually provokes a heady discussion, but here is our reasoning.   The real value of a DVM is to keep VM and AA media streams off the very expensive WAN connections. Remember that a DVM can fail up, which means the HQ server can take over Voice Mail and AA processing for the users at a site that has a failed DVM.   It makes sense to put the users at a remote site on the DVM at that site, but does it really make sense to have the switches at that site managed by the DVM at that site?

We think not.   Lets separate the issue of Users and Voice Mail from issues like TAPI, Workgroups and Personal Call Managers.   We need to remember that if a server goes down, the switches managed by that server will lose all the TAPI information for the phones that it controls.  This means you will have no functioning Workgroup Agents and not ability to monitor those Agents. Additionally, the Personal Call Managers will not work for any extensions on switches managed by the down server.

Given that Workgroups is not a distributed service, if the HQ server goes down, you will not have Workgroups anyway.   If the DVM at a remote site goes down, the HQ server will proxy for that sites Voice Mail and Automated Attendants.  Given that the HQ server was managing the switches at that remote site, you will not lose any of the PCM functionality highlighted above.  It occurs to us that this is a better place to be.   Let the HQ manage all switches and use the DVM’s for Voice Mail services for the users at remote sites!  Use a DVM at HQ for additional resiliency.

Voip Network Monitoring

We have been actively working with VoIP since 1999!   Since 2001 we have installed well over 10,000 ShoreTel desktops and one characteristic of these VoIP environments has surfaced into high relief on the radar screen here in technical support:  A VoIP solution is only as good as the computer Network it runs on! Network Monitoring – a Necessary Evil?  When someone mentions network monitoring, most network administrators immediately start thinking: overpriced, large server requirements, difficult to install, time-consuming to configure.  If those hurdles are overcome, then there’s a potential rainbow at the end of the road: Immediate notification of problems, faster problem resolution, less downtime of services.  That equates to happier & more productive users, and a more profitable organization. What’s interesting to realize is that the vast majority of companies all want to know the same things with their network:

  • When do problems happen?
  • Where are the problems?
  • Why do these problems exist?

We have decided to create a product that eliminates all of the hurdles and answer these same questions no matter how large or complex a network was deployed.

We can now:

  • Deploy and auto-discovers your entire network in just a few minutes
  • Continuously monitors the health of every device and interface on your network

This allows for some proactive analysis that includes:

  • Quickly learn which interfaces in your entire network are discarding packets
  • Perform a call path mapping of the health of every interface used in a VoIP call
  • Run a call simulation from any computer to any IP endpoint (including router interfaces)
  • Know what your current Internet utilization is – live (updated every 2.5 seconds)
  • Learn the switch and port where your VoIP phones are connected

Contact us today and we will send you a FREE completely operating network monitoring system for your evaluation.  Send a return email that lists:

  • Company Name
  • User Name
  • User email address
  • User phone number

And we will email you the download link and evaluation license code! Our only requirement is that you be a ShoreTel  system user.!


SIP Softphone on Asterisk, CISCO and ShoreTel

Configuring SIP extensions has become one of the most requested support questions we receive. Asterisk, CISCO and ShoreTel all support SIP extensions. Candidly, SIP is an excellent protocol and one that most IT professionals are already familiar with. This is an application level protocol and looks an awful lot like HTTP etc. Ever go to a webpage and get a 404 error, “page not available”? Well SIP error messages are very similar. If you get a 404 SIP error message, it means phone not available. Though H323 and MGCP are certainly more mature protocols, they are most useful for “call processing”. SIP has the added dimension of being useful for presence information. Setting up SIP extensions on ShoreTel is a breeze and we have setup up everything from CISCO through Polycom desk phones and a handful of wireless handsets as well. ( I am working on getting my iphone connected to ShoreTel using a wireless SIP phone and I am breathlessly awaiting the release of 3.0). X-Lite makes a great SIP softphone on ShoreTel and I have included a soundless SIP configuration video for those of you familiar with ShoreTel administration. This configuration is built using cally the same in 8.1 so enjoy!Version 9 of ShoreTel, but it is basically the same in 8.1 so enjoy!

ShoreTel Sip and Free X-Lite Softphone from