Apples to Apples: Avaya IP Office 8.1 Beats ShoreTel On TCO

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)

The Facts

    “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

–    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

–    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

–   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:

supplemented this online effort with telephone interviews with
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

–    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

–    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

–    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.