CISCO vs ShoreTel Comparison

Two leading VoIP providers compared

By Jerry Olsen
Updated: August 11, 2011

As far as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems are concerned. Cisco and ShoreTel are considered the two most prominent communication providers in the industry. If you’ve boiled your choices down to either one of these two companies, as always, it pays to do some research before making a final decision.

Focus Research, a market research firm in California, recently studied ShoreTel’s IP Phone System and compared it with Cisco’s Unified Call Manager/Media Systems. Both systems are specifically designed for small to medium sized (SMB) businesses.

Both systems also offer the following features/functions: interactive voice response (IVR), call center support, software/hardware platforms, security, internet protocol (IP) station capacity, easy installation, reroute to public switched telephone network (PSTN), and more.

The Cisco Series 7800 software platform runs on either Windows or Linux, and the hard platform is called Cisco CallManager. The ShoreTel phone system comes with a VXWorks software platform, and proprietary switches.

ShoreTel's Unified Communications system incorporates phones, switches, and software that are designed for easy deployment and rapid flexibility.

In terms of installation and configuration, the ShorTel IP phone system is easier and more intuitive. Focus Research said that the Cisco phone system is complex and requires more analysis and testing.

With the ShoreTel system, initial setup is much easier than Cisco, and the software configuration are more intuitive.

ShoreTel leads you through the installation process step-by-step with clear choices. The ShoreTel phones are easy to use and are easily configured by the administrator. More importantly, the voice quality to be very high, and there is no detectable latency during calls.

Given the fact that pricing is always a consideration, the marketing research company said that Cisco’s system is more expensive than ShorTel.

At the end of the day, both Cisco and ShoreTel both offer excellent solutions, but for different reasons. If you already use Cisco equipment in your business, it might behoove you to stick with the same equipment instead of switching to ShoreTel and paying more money.

On a different but related note, the City of Oakland, California has been using a Cisco VoIP system for ten years, but recently switched to ShoreTel. For further comparisons, check out

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