We have previously posted a blog on the creation of ShoreTel WAV files using the Call Manager the desired result. This is clearly a readily available tool and can reliably be used for small Automated Attendant greetings and to meet other WAV file requirements. Generally in our standard deployments, we use an outside professional voice production studio to give our clients that extra level of attention that defines a quality Automated Attendant Greeting. It seems however, that no matter how many times we specify the WAV file format we expect returned, there is an issue. This requires us to reformat each WAV file and that all takes time. Given that the clients usually wait until the absolute last minute to provide the script for their Automated Attendants, this extra step takes time the project really cant spare!
We have also noted that, even when we are assured that we have a WAV file formatted with the correct parameters, we have audio playback issues. Our outside studio uses Mac based applications and they swear they output to the correct format, but we still have playback issues! In an ECC deployment you might have 100 different recordings that define your call flow, agent busy messages and Interactive Voice Response applications. What is the best practice in converting these files to the proper ShoreTel WAV format? Regardless of how the WAV was produced or how certain we are that it is in the correct format, we reformat the files anyway. Loading a WAV file, only to find that it is defective when you are testing your Call Flow is a waste of time.
Using some SOX a Linux utility ported for Windows, we were able to create utility to convert WAV files in bulk. You can download SOX from the following site, or send us an email and I will forward you a link to download a ZIP file containing a complete batch utility. The zip file will create a new folder with three files inside including the SOX application and the Batch instructions. Running this application is very easy. Just drag your WAV files to the file named batch-convert-shoretel. This will cause the Batch utility to initialize and run. The output of the newly formatted files will be located in a new folder aptly named ShoreTel-Ready. Send me an email and I will send you a link to the Utility.
The file is available as a Free Digitial Download, open a free membership at DrVoIP.com and go for it!
Software development is a process, not an event. Having said that, from time to time, we have an event. The release of a new version of software is such an event. The software development process, however, continues. The decision as to where to draw the line to separate one release from another is a complex interaction of competing goals. The Marketing folks are trying to keep up with the competitive feature package from another vendor. The support team desperately needs a patch for a nasty unforeseen system configuration that introduces an undesirable result and the software team has an aggressive agenda of its own making.
The list of new feature demands is unending. Driven in part by user requests, marketing objectives and the pressures of other vendor releases. If your product is built on Microsoft, clearly you are under pressure to stay compatible with any new releases they might make available to the market. In fact, as it relates to ShoreTel, many people were seeking Windows 7 support when what they really want is Microsoft Office 2010 support! Was it 64 bit desktop computers or 64 bit server software that the market demanded? Do we do the Apple IPhone? Is that web based Communicator really needed in this release or can it wait? Fixing the release of new features is one of the most challenging business decisions that companies have to make.
Generally companies try for two DOT releases per year and one major new release every year. For ShoreTel, we generally expect a DOT one and a DOT two release. For example we might have a Version 10.1 in general availability (GA) while we are beta testing a major release like 11.0. We move to a GA release with the DOT and 11.0 becomes 11.1 available to all. Currently, as of this post, ShoreTel is in GA on Version 11.1 while beta testing Version 12.0. The GA Version of ShoreTel 11.1 has a host of exciting new features, but architecturally we are most interest in 64 bit server support; virtualization, Windows 7 Support, browser based Communicator and distributed Databases. Version 12 completes the Microsoft compatibility by supporting Outlook 2010.
Distributed Workgroups was made available in Version 10, which enables the continued operation of Workgroups on a distributed voice mail server (DVM) even if the HQ server failed. This has some attractive options, but having an operating workgroup might be limited by an inability to have users log in or out of the workgroup. Version 11 enables distributed database capability. This means that in the absence of a HQ (e.g. read/write database) server, a user on a DVM could change their call handling mode; or a change in schedule from Off-Hours to On-Hours could be effected. You have to chose one over the other and I would encourage you to choose the distributed database. Best practice dictates that a Workgroup should be backed up by a Hunt Group that contains all the agents who make up the Workgroup. In this way a failure of the Workgroup, still provides a call flow that reaches all Agents. A distributed database, in my humble opinion, has higher impact. IN a multi-site deployment, you will want to change call handling modes even if the HQ server is down. This combined with a backup hunt group, gets the job done more effectively.
The browser based Call Manger is yet another power new feature capability. Now all those MAC users have an option! I suspect that more and more call control will be built into browsers limiting our dependency on the various O/S issues. Who cares if we support Windows 9 as long as we have a browser option!
The ShoreTel Mobility Routers (aka SMR) is an exciting product that can make fixed/mobile convergence a reality! It builds heavily on inherent SIP functionality in call setup, call flow and Session Description Protocol. It acts as both a SIP client and as a SIP proxy server (e.g. B2BUA). If you are comfortable with SIP protocol, the SMR is a relatively simple device to understand. The products primary contribution to the state of the art is the ShoreTel Roam Anywhere Client (aka SRAC) and the fact that it is available now; it works and there are plenty of reference accounts.
The product demands a pervasive, voice enabled wireless network with a best practice recommendation of controller based access points. In my opiniion the product is optimized for Campus environments in which the same QOS requirements that you would expect for WAN connectivity are strictly adhered to. The Wireless environment requirements are for advanced network and power management strategies. The product is oriented toward a CISCO like Wireless networks “best practice” deployment. Clearly, you can make VoIP calls from StarBucks but you will not have the QOS that you would have on an enterprise Wireless Network.
The product can be integrated with most any PBX that supports SIP integraton including Microsoft Linx. When implemented as part of a ShoreTel deployment there are license requirements for both the SMR and the ShoreTel iPBX. For example, the SMR interconnects to the ShoreTel with both SIP extensions (Wifi connections) and Sip Trunks (Cellular connections). The number of paths, as you would assume, is calculated based on simultaneous conversation estimates. You are required to have two different ShoreTel PBX extensions if you are Mobility user. (My guess is the ShoreTel “twinning feature “was developed in part, primarily to support the SMR). It is not clear if the required SIP trunk, SIP extension and ShoreTel User licenses are bundled in the SMR acquisition cost but they are required. There are also extra SMR licenses required for presence and secure voice.
The best working model you might use for discussion purposes, is to envision a “tie-line” configuration between two pbx systems. In this case the SMR acts as a tie line between the iPBX and the Cellular network. You do a 10 – 4 Digit translation on the Cellular side of the tie line to reach ShoreTel extensions; and you do a 4 – 10 Digit translation on the PBX side of the tie line to reach Mobile phones. The SMR acts as a registration point and based on the SRAC calculations of WAP signal strength and active call can be handed off to the cellular network.
An incoming call to a ShoreTel users deskphone, also rings the associated SIP extension via the SMR. The Wireless SIP extension is the ShoreTel Roam Anywhere Client running on your faviorite smart phone. The SRAC is smart enought to register with the SMR either wirelessly or over the Cellular network depending on signal strenght. A call from the SIP extension displays the CID of the ShoreTel deskphone. The product is fully formed and is an exciting addition to the ShoreTel product family. Another Brilliantly Simple Solution!