What is your opinion about the Shoreline system, and how does it stack up against Cisco, 3Com, Avaya?
The Shoreline has some neat features and has certainly one it's share of rewards. I generally try not to get into product recommendations as there are several considerations that come into play and there is not any single answer for everyone. I will, however, give you some points to consider in your decision. You can check out my article on TCO and ROI for some additional pointers.
Are the features necessary or just cool. Not all features bring a benefit that is worth their cost justification, particularly if they will not be used over the lifetime of the system.
What platform does the equipment run on? Go to www.cert.org and check out the number of security notices that have come out for the platform. Obviously, the more users a product has, the bigger target it will have, but also, if it is built and run on a platform that exhibits security problems, these problems will cause additional administrative problems.
Next, and probably most important, pay particular attention to MTBF figures. This is the mean time before failure. I did a comparison the other day between two of the vendors that you list, one had a MTBF of around 110,000 hours the other nearly 400,000. Warranty or not, down- time is downtime. They may argue that your system won't be around that long, but it does give you a very keen insight into the quality of the equipment.
You will also want to look at how many other kinds of phones will work with any system. You don't want to get locked into a single vendor solution that you can't use any other equipment with as it will limit your options down the road.
Check out their administrative processes. Since you will have to administer this system when they leave or have it done, find out if there is local support, easy to use interfaces or an 800 number with INTELIGENT people on the other end of the phone. Call their technical support line to get your presales information. If they are willing to help and answer your questions, that will tell you a lot. You don't want to have to pay $250.00 per hour for these calls when you are using the system.
Finally, find out what type of features are coming that they will share. A system may not have what you want today in the form of bells and whistles, but weighted with coming attractions, this can alter your price considerations, particularly if they will throw it in when it is available.
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