ShoreTel Enhanced Workgroup Services!

Historically, there were three services in the ShoreTel architecture that were no distributed to other servers.   To oversimplify, this meant that if the HQ server (read primary server) was unavailable, the services that were not distributed would not function.  The three services were Route Points, Account Codes, and Workgroups.   For example, if a user group was set to “forced” account code verification and the server was unavailable, that service would fail and the affected user would not be able to place a call.   Likewise, if the HQ server were unavailable, Workgroup services would fail.  ( The “best practice’ deployment strategy was to backup a Workgroup with a “hunt group” given that the HG ran on a switch and not a server, it would continue to function in this scenario.  Calls targeting agents in a Workgroup would fail over to a hunt group that would target the same list of agents).

ShoreTel has steadily progressed the distribution of these services out from the HQ server to either SG switches or  Distributed servers.  With the latest release of ShoreTel,  they have migrated critical services to include Workgroup services.   This is a major enhancement and any organization that makes use of the Workgroup functionality, especially in a multi-site environment,  will realize a  benefit by these enhancements.

Through the ShoreTel administration portal, we now find a drop down window that enables us to select which server should be utilized to run the Workgroup we are defining.   For example, in a multi-site environment, I might want to have the Workgroups organized by Site and run the workgroup service on the DVM at that site.   This would keep the Workgroup local and a failure of the HQ server would not dramatically affect the workgroup at the remote site.   We note that, in the absence of the HQ server, we are still unable to make database changes.  For example, Logging In/Out of a Workgroup would not be possible, but the remote Workgroup would still function.

Additionally, we note that you can continue to name a Hunt Group as a backup extension.   The key difference here is that the Hunt Group can contain extensions that are Workgroups on other servers!   This offers a degree of flexibility not previously available and is a viable alternative to a straight Hunt Group solution.   A failure of the HQ server will only effect the Workgroups that are on that server and distributed Workgroups on other servers will continue to run.  A failure of a DVM with an operating Workgroup can fail to a Hunt Group that can be used to route calls to other Workgroups.

The vocabulary might be a bit confusing, but the strategy represents a significant step forward in assuring the operation of a distributed call processing application as powerful as ShoreTel Workgroups!


ShoreTel CDR Format- How to find the International Calls!

Recently, while working with a third party Call Accounting vendor, we had an opportunity to revisit ShoreTel CDR records.  ShoreTel stores CDR records in two locations for two different purposes.  Historically, the first format is basically the “Legacy CDR Text Files” and they are stored in the Shoreline Data folder as log files.  The log files are written to \Shoreline Data\Call Records 2 and are written out at Midnight to a file named CDR-YYMMDD.HHMMSS.log.   This is the file that is generally accessed by third party Call Accounting software vendors.

The second format is written to a MySQL database which is used to generate call accounting reports directly from the ShoreTel server.  In version 7 ShoreTel began to migrate away from Microsoft Access to MySQL for both the CDR and the configuration database.   There is a procedure for converting the older files into the new MySQL format, but we are not going to cover that as most people have already made this transition.      The MySQL database also opens the opportunity to create custom reports using SQL queries.  Through the ShorewareDirector portal, under Reporting options, you can set the Retention Period for CDR Data as well as the Archive retention period.

CDR Options in ShorewareDirector Portal

If your third party Call Accounting software uses the 011 to detect an international CDR record, you will need to make some adjustments.  ShoreTel uses a Canonical format to collect digits.  This means that no matter what the user actually dials on the phones keypad, the system internally converts the numbers to +country-code area-code subscriber –number.   The fact that you dialed 9+011+52+3654587 will be stored in the ShoreTel CDR log file as 9+523654587 and the 011 reference will not be in the record.  The following silent film clip walks you through the format and content of the CDR.log files.