Frequently Asked Questions When Upgrading to ShoreTel Connect
By Chris Mitchell, Chief Technology Officer
Upgrading to ShoreTel Connect is pretty straightforward, particularly when you turn to us for help. But it isn’t seamless and many clients still have questions that need answering. On our latest webinar, several attendees asked questions that mattered most to them. Naturally, we were more than happy to answer all of them live during the course of the webinar.
Today’s post is going to cover the most common questions we have been asked about upgrading to ShoreTel Connect.
This post will hopefully give you the answers you are looking for. If not, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. If you mention this article, we’ll be happy to help even if you’re not a current customer.
What has tripped up users on the new client from a change perspective?
I would say the biggest change with respect to the client is going from the contacts tab to the people tab. In the new client there’s the full directory of users in the contacts tab but also your favorites list is in there too.
In the Communicator client, you can just leave your contacts tab open all the time and you can always see that. With the people tab, if you select the favorites, it takes up more space in your screen. You can pin it so it’s always open but it takes up more space.
As such, something to get used to is when you want to find out if somebody is available now, having to click that people tab and then look through it instead of just being able to glance down and then look at the contacts tab that’s already always open as part of the client. That’s a really big change that people have to get used to.
The second one would be docking. The client doesn’t dock. When you open up windows and stuff like that, windows open up in front of it so you don’t always have the client visible if you go full screen on applications.
Those are the two biggest things that we’re running into as far as just customers or employees getting used to the changes of the new client.
Are there any changes to hunt groups or bridge call appearances with Connect and do they work any differently?
The nice thing is hunt groups and bridge call appearances don’t change in Connect. They continue to function the exact same way. I will note that we have a lot of problems with customers in hunt groups on switches because they get overloaded very easily.
The new ST switches, the new virtual switches greatly enhance the capabilities of how many hunt groups and hunt group members they can run on a switch due to having additional memory and processing power on the new ST and virtual switches.
No changes there but if you’re looking to replace switches, the newer switches can handle more hunt groups on them with the new memory and processing power that was added to them.
Is there support for Connect on Server 2016?
Yes, Server 2016 was released a few months ago. They released Server 2016 support for Connect. We’ve actually deployed a couple customers on Connect using Server 2016 already. We haven’t had any issues with it. We haven’t upgraded our internal system to it yet. We’re still running Server 2012 R2, but we have a number of our customers that are already on 16 or in the process of upgrading to a 2016 server for their headquarters.
How has the interface for an operator changed?
It is very similar to how the Communicator client works. The Communicator client from a end-user to an operative perspective didn’t look any different. You just added abilities to drag and drop transfers, change people’s call handling modes, see their statuses.
In Communicator, there wasn’t much of a difference between an end user and an operator from a look standpoint. In Connect, they kept the same thing. The client doesn’t look any different from an operator to a regular user.
The one thing they did change is every single user in Connect can drag and drop transfers. If I just want to grab a call and drag and drop it to someone else, I don’t have to have an operator license to do that anymore.
I need an operator license if I want to right click and drag and drop and get a menu option. The functionality stayed the same, going from Communicator to Connect as far as what you can do as an operator. You just do it on the people tab instead of the contacts tab going forward.
There isn’t a big operator change in mentality or functionality, they just do it on a different window instead of what they’re used to on the Communicator software.
Can you just install Connect or do you have to uninstall Communicator first?
With the new Connect client, the new file name, the name change, and everything else, we ran into this issue a few times with customers trying to do it as simply as possible. Unfortunately, you do need to uninstall the Communicator client and install the Connect client separately. The system will not allow you to have both of them installed at the exact same time.
They conflict with each other, and they cause a lot of issues when it comes to integrations with Outlook and stuff like that. Because of how they did the name change and everything and the type of programming and stuff on it, they said they ran into issues. They just decided it wasn’t worth the extra development time that it needed, so you do have to uninstall the old client and install the new client.
If you’re doing software pushing, you do need to push a package to uninstall the Communicator client and then push a second package that installs the new Connect client going forward. Not ideal, obviously. That’s probably one of the biggest complaints from an IT level.
We‘d like to upgrade our headquarters server from 2008 to ’16. Does that complicate things?
The only complicating issue you have is if you’re on 2008 32-bit because Connect does not support any 32 bit OS at all.
If you happen to be on Server 2008 64-bit, you can do an upgrade to Connect on that server. Then migrate to a new 2016 platform. If you happen to be on at 32-bit, you’re going to have to install, let’s say, a 2012 server.
Migrate from 2008, 2012 and then complete the Connect upgrade. Then do one more migration 2016 so it does complicate it if you happen to be on a 32-bit 2008 build at all.
Can you walk me through the upgrade process?
The upgrading software is very similar to 14.2. The first thing we’re going to do is download the server software to the server. We’re going to run a backup of the server, so we have a fully working backup.
At that point, we’re going to launch the software, upgrade the server and the server package. That can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on how big your database is in how much processing power your server has.
Once that server upgrade completes, we reboot the server. We then upgrade any DVS’s that you have to do the same thing running the DVS software upgrade on that server and rebooting the server.
Then that server reconnects to Connect and is back up and running. Once we have all of our servers complete, we’re going to reboot all of our ShoreGear switches or service appliances because every single switch and appliance out there have to get a new firmware that’s compatible with Connect.
We reboot all the switches so that they can get the new firmware. Once they are complete, we then need to start rebooting all of all of our IP phones because all the IP phones need to get a firmware update on them as well.
All the phones reboot, grab firmware, and they reconnect. At that point, we look through the system to make sure that everything is talking to each other.
If we don’t see any communication issues, we then run through our diagnostic testing inbound calling, outbound calling, auto attendant, the hunt group functionality.
If somebody’s on site, we have them test physical phones, test desktop clients, all that kind of stuff as well at the same time. That can run anywhere from four hours to eight hours, depending on how big the system is, and how many devices we have for more update as well.
Has the consult feature changed?
That functionality has not changed. If you are doing a consult transfer and it fails it’ll say, “Do you want to transfer this? Yes or cancel.” If you say cancel, you get the customer back, and then you can say, “Looks like I didn’t get a hold of Mike. Let me transfer you to voicemail.”
You have to complete another transfer in that case. The transferring piece of things did not change at all going from 14.2 to Connect. They pulled that through and just put the same functionality into the new look client.
How has ShoreTel recording changed?
There is an update to the call recording client that makes it Connect compatible. It’s part of the upgrade process. We just install the update to the ShoreTel call recording application on your server, so that it gets an update.
It’s important to clarify ShoreTel’s automatic call recording solution is an add-on not the default on-demand call recording.
It takes all the current configurations in place and it leaves it in place, and just does an upgrade of that client to make it Connect compatible. No changes have to be made there. Even most of the third-party call recording solutions work the same way.
There’s a new version from them that has to be installed as part of the upgrade, so that third-party call recordings solutions could work with Connect. Most of them have already certified on Connect, since it’s has been out a while. There’s not much change when it comes to call recording as well either.
We’ve got Windows 32. Is that supported for Connect Client 32-bit?
Yes. 32-bit workstations is supported, just not 32-bit server OS’s for your headquarter server or your distributed voicemail servers. Windows 7 and newer is being supported on Connect. They don’t go any further back than Windows 7, but Windows 7 and newer OS or desktop OS’s are supported.
Which phone models are not supported?
IP210, IP530 are two that are not supported on Connect.
They were actually slated to not be supported on 14.2, but they’ve realized how many they had in production still. They actually extended supporting the 14.2 for those phones. There is no firmware in Connect for those two model phones.
What’s the process for rebooting phones and pushing out firmware?
Just like you can do a 14.2, you can go into a switch. You can see all the IP phones. I have the IP phone capability inside of the admin interface. I can select phones. I can reboot phones. If you have a 400 series phone, I can reboot a phone without a firmware upgrade, or I can push a new firmware, and I can even select which firmware I want to push to a 14.2 customer.
With a 400 series phone, I can pick which firmware I want to push to that phone as well, from the admin interface. You still have the capability to reboot phones and push those out remotely. From the new Connect director, you can even pack and capture from a phone from a troubleshooting perspective, which is a new feature.
How is the migration of CDR records from 5.1 to 5.3 handled?
That is handled automatically. That’s one of the reasons that the Connect upgrade takes so long, is that the system is part of the upgrade process.
There’s a backup of your CDR records and then upgrades MySQL to the newer version of MySQL, and then does a data integrity check on the CDR records, to make sure that everything is there. If you have a really big CDR database, the server upgrade, can take an hour and a half, due to the CDR migrations.
One way you can shorten that is by throwing additional virtual course. If you have a virtual server, you can throw additional CPU course at it before the upgrade. You can dramatically reduce the upgrade time when that’s occurring on the server side.
Are the oldest CDR records combined with the new ones in one database?
Correct. They actually do an upgrade of the CDR database, so they maintain it as one MySQL database going forward.
As they upgrade it, they migrate the database. If you were to connect to the MySQL database from a CDR perspective, you’ll see one database with the 14.2 and the new Connect data combined in one table. One database. Multiple tables.
Does Connect still use the DVS?
Yep, you can still use Windows to base DVS’s. They introduced the new Linux base DVS as well. If you don’t want to maintain Windows licensing for DVS’s, you can spin up inside of VMware or Hyper-V, the new Linux-based DVS as well.
I don’t see any wireless conference phones. Is there any third party phones that you can recommend that would work?
Most of the Polycom conference phones are all certified. They make an analog wireless phone that we’ve hooked up. Also, the new Polycom Trio and the Konftel wireless conference phones are supported as well.
What happens if I’m on Version 13?
Upgrading from version 13 to Connect will no longer be supported after June 1, 2018, on all new connect builds so customers will be required to upgrade to 14 then Connect going forward.
We have to do a 14 upgrade to get you to a compatible operating system for your servers to get up to Connect. If you happen to be on 2008 64-bit on your 13 servers, you can do a direct upgrade to Connect. We rarely see that anymore, but it is a supported upgrade.
What is the end development date for version 14.2?
End of development date for 14.2 is now December 31st, 2019.
That means there will no longer be any bugs or patches created for issues that are found uncovered on 14.2. Those will be fixed in Connect. Effectively, Mitel will be no longer putting development cycles into 14.2.
It will still be supported as a version to be on. It will not be one that they’re going to continue development on for not only features but bugs fixes, patches and things like that. That state is exactly where version 13 is right now, meaning it’s supported. It does not have development being done on it for patches and fixes.
Those would be corrected in 14 or in Connect. Hope that clarifies.
IS SG 24A still compatible with Connect?
Are ShoreTel Extension Only Licenses eligible for the upgrade as well? Previously I heard they weren’t.
You are correct in that Ext Only converts to “Courtesy” license, which is just Ext Only.
Given how long it takes to upgrade, might it make more sense to build a new server, then migrate?
Absolutely and we STRONGLY recommend that approach. We call it an upgrade, but yes it is technically preferred to be a migration!
Will it still support VMWare?
Yes absolutely! The Hyper-V is just new additions. There is a required VMware change, however.
Is the Connect Client a replacement for Communicator 14.2?
Yes the Communicator client is replaced by the Connect client.
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