Last week, I posted a blog about how much less expensive Avaya IP Office is for mid-sized companies versus ShoreTel's solution, as calculated by the respected analyst firm, The Tolly Group. ShoreTel quickly posted a rebuttal blog.
We question ShoreTel's methodology, its statistics, and its assertions. My Avaya colleagues Tim Johnson and Joe Scotto have created the following point-by-point rebuttal of ShoreTel's claims, which I share below.
From The ShoreTel Rebuttal Blog (4/24/13)
"No customer data was incorporated in their analysis of costs. ShoreTel commissioned the Aberdeen Group to survey more than 300 customers and collect their actual historical operating cost data over multiple years. This is the only way to know what the actual operating costs will be, and is far more precise than a lab experiment."
- Avaya chose to have Tolly perform an apples-to-apples product comparison between ShoreTel and Avaya in a controlled, lab environment, thus eliminating variances like software releases, customer sophistication, usage patterns, and personal opinions.
- ShoreTel's Aberdeen report surveyed a mixed sample of customer types with a mixed set of products. Such variances can skew results.
- In addition, the Tolly test uses IP Office Server Edition. This is a new solution which includes centralized licensing and management. Clearly, that impacts TCO operations.
- None of the customers in the ShoreTel sponsored Aberdeen report were using Server Edition, which invalidates their rebuttal.
"The report does not include the expected software upgrade costs a customer would face over five years. ShoreTel does not charge for upgrades. Avaya charges for all feature releases, resulting in higher costs."
- This statement is completely inaccurate.
- Avaya includes all software upgrades as part of the Avaya IP Office Support Services offer.
"There are no labor costs for operating the system included in the analysis, as their lab experiment implies they are the same. Customer interviews validate more resources are needed to manage Avaya IP Office systems, resulting in higher costs."
- Tolly did in fact evaluate administration as part of their comparison. Here is a direct quote from the report:
- "Tolly engineers performed typical system administrative tasks and noted the ease-of- deployment and functionality of the systems. Typical functions consisted of: importing users, adding trunk lines, configuring backups, and global system variables for use in the environment. Engineers also evaluated the ease-of- upgrades and different administration options available."
- In addition, ShoreTel does not offer data to validate the claim that "more resources" are required for the Avaya solution. Remember, customer interviews based on prior products are not a valid comparison. Also, as stated, the Avaya IP Office Server Edition product is new (July 2012).
"No actual customer data reflecting demand on IT to support users is included. The analysis of Avaya versus ShoreTel customers validates Avaya IT departments get more requests from users, which results in higher support costs."
- Avaya was first to market with a browser-based user application (i.e. one-X portal from IP Office Release 5 in 2009). With that release we noted the significant time savings for user deployment and support.
- The continuous innovations from release 5 to the current release of 8.1 all contribute to the conclusions stated in the Tolly report. And IT departments will enjoy the savings and efficiencies derived from them. Again, the lab test demonstrates that Avaya delivers an average of 32% savings over the ShoreTel solution (i.e. based on a 5 year TCO calculation).
- One must note that there is no valid source for the claim that "Avaya IT departments get more requests...". Is this an assumption based on discussions with "select" ShoreTel customers? The Aberdeen report does not indicate why specific customers were selected to participate in the survey. All that is provided is the following statement:
- "Aberdeen supplemented this online effort with telephone interviews with select survey respondents"
"Avaya's own One-X Portal product literature indicates their products do not always operate as expected."
- Every software product has the potential to occasionally "not always operate as expected." There is no data to suggest that this is more common with Avaya software than with software developed by ShoreTel.
- It's not clear what ShoreTel is trying to say here about the Tolly report claims.
"ShoreTel holds to the accuracy of our TCO calculations and guarantees the results. If Avaya can produce statistically accurate customer data gathered from a third party that can demonstrate their TCO to be lower, ShoreTel will lower our price accordingly."
- Customers should read the fine print in ShoreTel's "guarantee".
- ShoreTel literature states that customers must use the ShoreTel tool (i.e. which includes their view of all competitive pricing) to qualify for the guarantee. In addition, customers must have a minimum of 100 IP endpoints to qualify, excluding approximately 99% of businesses from participating.
- As of 4/24, below is an excerpt from the ShoreTel T&C document, verbatim:
- "System configurations covered are limited to:
- Minimum of 100 IP phone users
- Minimum of 10 IP phone users per locations"
- "The ShoreTel TCO Tool must be used to calculate the difference between ShoreTel and competitive systems."
- The Avaya IP Office TCO tool is open to all customers. It does not presume to tell you what you would pay for a competitor's product. It's confident to stand on its own TCO strength that you can calculate with your own data.
- We invite prospects to use that tool for help and encourage them to ask ShoreTel for details about their "guarantee".
- "Based on the feedback from the Avaya employees that have joined ShoreTel, from discussions with employees impacted by Avaya's headcount reductions, and from discussions with resellers that sell both Avaya and ShoreTel, we find the interview results gathered by Aberdeen Research to be consistent with what customers face in the production environments."
- Tolly obtained the pricing from a reseller that sourced both solutions. The analysis included list pricing as well as "street" discounts so there is no subjectivity in the numbers used.
- The misleading information in the Aberdeen report was a key driver for Avaya to set the record straight with this report from Tolly.
- The facts are that the "results" gathered for ShoreTel by Aberdeen do not reflect a like-for-like solution comparison. There were numerous pricing and feature errors stated. No lab testing was conducted and the survey sampling was significantly flawed (e.g. Avaya IP Office had half the number of customers represented in the survey vs ShoreTel; yet in SME markets, ShoreTel has less than 2% global market share where Avaya has roughly seven times that share, or 15%).
- Avaya can support each of those points with specifics and we welcome any opportunity to do so. Please contact one of our authorized resellers for a full briefing.
Posted 29 Apr 2013 at 07:31 AM