How to install the ShoreTel Virtual Switches!

February 10th, 2014
Virtualization has significantly altered the options available for your choice of deployment models.  With the introduction of ShoreTel 14.2 you can completely virtualize your VoIP deployment right down to the Gateways!  If you have no Analog telephone device requirements or telephone company lines,  you can now eliminate those ShoreTel Orange boxes!  This is a significant advancement in the state of the art and one that will become increasingly more prevalent as we look for viable business continuity strategies.     The ShoreTel virtual switches come in a number of flavors:  Service appliance, phone switch and trunk switch.   The Virtual appliance is similar to the ShoreTel SA100/400 server and is essentially a free feature enhancement!  The ShoreTel Virtual Phone switch can also be used as the “spare” switch available for use by phones that need to register with a new switch when the ShoreGear switch they were using fails.  Again, no cost associated with this unless you leave them on that virtual switch for longer than the normal 45 day grace period.
The VoIP technology in general has become more complex demanding new skill sets from those who install them.   In addition to the telephony, network, firewall, SIP and Microsoft software applications that historically touch your ShoreTel deployment, you will now need to understand VMware ESXi deployments including the use of OVA files.   The ShoreTel Virtual switches are now distributed as a part of your HQ and DVM server images.  They live in the FTP server and can be retrieved in one of two ways.  You can either download the image file when you configure your appliance in the Shoreware Director portal, or you can load it as a URL in the VMware machine configuration as the target for your OVA file.
If you are familiar with VMware, the installation process is relatively simple, straight forward and easy to understand. Once the machine is specified the Vmware configuration is as simple as adding the basic network IP components including the address of the Shoreware HQ server.   The machine will ultimately configure, load and become available as a virtual machine on your ESXi platform.   From that point on, there is little difference to the installation of a virtual appliance or a real ShoreGear switch in Shoreware Director.   The basic difference has to do with the selection of the hardware platform type.  Normally you would select an SA100 or a ShoreGear 50, for example.  In the case of a virtual appliance, you will select a new category from the drop hardware list, that indicates what type of appliance you are installing.  The rest of the configuration is the same.  The virtual appliances behave like the normal orange” boxes,  even requiring a firmware upgrade.   They appear in both the Diagnostic Monitoring and Quick View and in all respects operate like their real world hardware brethren.
We should all understand that those little orange boxes contain application specific microprocessors or digital signal processors (DSP’s).  The real heavy lifting normally done by those chips for CODEC work, for example, will now be done in software.  Additionally, don’t make the mistake of deploying virtual appliances at sites logically, without understanding that the VMware hardware platform location is just as important on over all performance as ever!   All and all this is a major step forward for ShoreTel and you can expect these virtual appliances to become a standard part of your deployments over time.    The video clip reviews the actual installation of both a phone switch and a service appliance!
Note – The ShoreTel news here is that the actual Voice Gateways are virtualized, not just the application, but the Gateways!

7 responses to “How to install the ShoreTel Virtual Switches!”

  1. Terrence B says:

    This maybe the move by Shortel to make me seriously become involved as a consultant of there products. Now if Shoretel would just get back to me so I can get started!

  2. Spanky says:

    Interesting. It seems like a lot of VMs to get this to work though. Zultys just released their system as a virtual image option too. One image though for _everything_ including full call center, call recording, conference bridge, SBC, etc. on one .ova file. As a reseller of both, Zultys is a much stronger system and solution overall.

  3. Eric Cullum says:

    @Terrence-
    Mitel has been doing what ShoreTel has just released for 4+ years now. We can virtualize EVERY UCC application in our portfolio and support EVERY vTool in the vSphere stack. ShoreTel is unable to do both of these to date.We are 12-18 mos ahead of the competition in every facet of UCC in a VMware environment.
    Check us out! We have a wonderful Consultant Liason Program. I have included the link to join below!
    http://www.mitel.com/content/mitel-global-consultant-liaison-program-clp

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Mitel did this 4 years ago, and this is considered news? What happens in the n+1 fail over, oh wait read the small print, it needs to be a physical orange box… Shoretel, the marketing company that sells phones systems… 45 days, oh, another license… I’ve worked with a Shoretel system for many years, every little option is an additional license. Should we discuss scaling? This maxes out at 1000 users for the virtual, yea that’s enterprise… SSDI… (different infrastructure).

    Note from DrVoIP – “Generally, posts carry more weight when they are not written by anonymous posters”.

  5. Garf says:

    Not heard of Zultys before now so just looked into it, isn’t this just a re-branded Asterisk solution with re-branded Aastra phones? Not exactly in the same league as Shoretel. Why go with Zultys when you can get the same products for free?

    I have worked in Telecoms for about 20 years and particularly with Shoretel for the last 6 years, Shoretel has its faults but I would take Shoretel every time over Asterisk especially if my business relied on telecoms – that’s only my opinion not fact.

    Every manufacturer has its advantages and specialisation, for Shoretel to virtualise this is a vast advancement, just because a company focuses its research and development resources on different areas doesn’t make it better overall product. Not worked with Mitel myself, I can only go by my colleagues comments who have, again it has strong and weak areas. Why are we in telecoms always so polarised all the time, ‘mine is better than yours’, I am not saying I don’t do do this! 🙂

  6. Justin says:

    In response to Anonymous above…your comments need some correction.

    If you have a VM fail, you can use vMotion to move the VM and recover. If the host server fails, use VMware’s HA feature to automatically restart the VM on a new host server. Or you can create a “Spare” VM that can do this automatically, just as ShoeTel has always done with physical switches. That “Spare” VM is free, by the way. And that also corrects your statement that N+1 failover must be to a physical switch. It can be virtual or physical.

    Yes, ShoreTel licenses features. Many, many features come in the standard Extension and Mailbox license. Some users may need some extra licenses for advanced features but 90% of users are very happy with the standard license and its rich feature set.

    And, finally, ShoreTel grows to 20,000 users, whether they’re virtual, physical, or a mix of both. Go past 1000 users? Just configure another VM and load the .ova file on there. Ready for 1000 more users. Buy the licenses to add users on that VM and off you go.

  7. MJ says:

    How does the licensing work? If I wanted to setup a virtual switch for 200 users do I have to buy “Virtual Phone Capacity 200” license, plus 200 Extension and Voicemail licenses?

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