Virtualize your ShoreTel Contact Center or ECC on ESXi?
Running the ECC on a virtual server is “not a supported configuration”, but will it work? Often we encounter installed base solutions that are pushing the support envelop with market driven customer requirements. Windows 7 may not be a supported desktop OS for a ShoreTel Communicator, but try telling an end user client that is it “not a supported configuration” after they just did an enterprise wide PC refresh. We quickly learn the difference between “not supported” and “does not work”, and find a way to get Communicator running under Windows 7. Similarly, we are beginning to see more Virtualization requirements surface in the installed base as well as written as requirements in new deployments. Prior to Version 11, virtualization was “not a supported configuration” for a ShoreTel HQ or DVM server. Now, not only are we being asked to virtualize ShoreTel, we are being asked to consider running a ShoreTel ECC in a virtual environment. We already know it is “not a supported configuration”, but will it work? We determined to find out for ourselves if this solution could be configured and we created a an environment in which we could configure, test and experience a Virtualized ShoreTel Contact Center.
There are any number of issues you need to resolve when considering a Virtual Server environment. Is this going to be a customer premise based implementation or are we moving all of these servers to the “cloud”. How many servers will we need to host on our Virtual Machine? RAM? Network Interfaces? Storage requirements? These are all on the list of questions that should be answered before attempting a Virtual server implementation. In the case of the ShoreTel ECC, we also had one other (excuse the pun) key issue to worry about. Each ShoreTel ECC has a “dongle” or USB lock that must be installed on the server prior to deploying the ECC application. We had already learned how to bring up a ShoreTel HQ server and a ShoreTel DVM server in a virtual environment, but to bring up a ShoreTel ECC we had to solve the “dongle” issue. Fortunately after considerable research, trial and error, we were able to configure a USB driver for our Virtual server that enabled the installation of the ShoreTel ECC application!
In our test configuration we built out a host platform using vSphere ESXi running on an HP DL360 with 2 Intel; Quad Processors and 32G of RAM with a Network Attached Storage. The ShoreTel HQ and DVM servers came up with little or no problem. They need to be configured before ShoreTel software load of Version 12.0 with a hardware configuration that meets ShoreTel minimum server specifications. In fact, it is hard to show it to you as you would not be able to see any difference between a Virtual ShoreTel and a ShoreTel server running directly on a hardware platform. T he ECC had some real challenges and we are still uncovering characteristics of the deployment that need special handling like the USB driver as previously mentioned. The results are very promising and we can only find one issue that we can not resolve. The application runs flawlessly however, and we are encouraged by what we have experienced with the deployment. Send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share the recipe with you! The attached video clip walks you through the configuration of the vShpere host and the ShoreTel servers, including the hosted ECC application.