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Dialogic - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 4

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The Evolution of Voicemail

Is voicemail doomed to the dustbin of history or will it evolve?  

Voicemail is widely recognized as one of the great telecommunications applications.  Starting with its launch back in 1980 by VMX and others, voicemail’s use quickly became ubiquitous in business and soon turned into a multibillion-dollar business as an add-on to business PBX systems, home telephone service, and later mobile services.  Ideal for brief messages, voicemail automated message services and eliminated the pink “While you were out” slips.

It also spawned “voicemail tag” and the “daily” greeting. Remember recording daily greetings?  (I bet some do).

More recently, voicemail is losing its luster as other applications take over short message delivery responsibility. Email, instant messaging, SMS, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and other mobile applications are often the go-to solution to delivering short messages. 

As noted in a blog by Dave Michels on NoJitter, large corporations, including Coca-Cola are giving their employees the option to go without a corporate voicemail box (which I suspect is being replaced by either a mobile voicemail box or SMS messaging).

But based on a podcast interview I did with Karel Bourgois, Founder and CEO of voxist on the topic, voicemail isn’t dead, it’s evolving to be part of a new generation of omni-channel business applications.  “There are times when voice is the best medium, like when you are driving or on a subway train,” noted Karel.  Recognizing that the reality is you can’t always use the keyboard on a device to safely send a message.  Driving and texting continues to be a serious risk factor.

It seems the issue with voicemail is that it’s not integrated with the way people consume their messages.  We experimented with Unified messaging almost 20 years ago, allowing recorded voice message to appear as a WAV file attachment in your email, but that turned out to be pretty inconvenient and not very private. 

As Karel notes, “If you are in a situation where you can’t take a call, you are like also not in a situation to listen to a voicemail.” In many cases it would be much more convenient to receive a transcription of the message delivered on the messaging application chosen by the recipient, not the sender. “A Facebook Messenger user wants their messages on Messenger, not some other application.”

Of the new innovations driving the evolution of voice messaging, a key technology is the cloud-based speech-to-text engines that can accurately convert a voice message to text.  Past attempt created almost comical text interpretations of messages requiring the recipient to listen to the original recording to understand the contents of the message.  IBM’s Watson is an example of a very high quality speech-to-text engine available to developers on the cloud using open APIs.

Other innovations include the Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS) offerings and open APIs, allowing developers to build the next generation applications using powerful APIs without the burden of infrastructure costs.  Karel’s voxist application is an example, using Telestax’s Restcomm open-source platform to develop and deliver his next-generation voicemail offering as an over-the-top application for mobile and consumers.

It does appear that there is a future for voicemail and it will evolve to meet new user needs.  I also suspect we’ll ditch the old name, calling it something else and positioning it as an add-on to the other social or messaging applications.

The daily greeting?  That’s headed to the dustbin of history.  “Today, December 9th I’ll be in the office…”

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/the-evolution-of-voicemail

Publish Date: December 9, 2016 5:00 AM


LTE And (Over) A 1000 Words

If you go to the Global mobile Suppliers Association website, you can get some very interesting information in the form of white papers and other content. In fact, you can get the picture above if you click here.  And that picture really does say a 1000 words.

First of all, and this no news, LTE has been the fastest growing mobile system ever.  It remains to be seen if 5G will supplant this when the time comes, but for now, it’s been the fastest growing ever.  In fact, LTE now connect 1 in 5 mobile subscribers.  And the GSA predicts there will be over 560 LTE networks launched by the end of 2016.

What does this all mean?  First of all, it means fast data.  And it means smartphones on these networks.  It also means LTE infrastructure growth will be slowing down because so many networks are deployed.  I’m sure by now we’ve all read about Ericsson profit warnings, etc. 

So between now and 5G network installation, where will telecom action / growth come from? First of all, VoLTE should be coming on these networks soon, if for no other reason than it allows older non-LTE networks to be decommissioned. VoLTE is somewhat there, but not to the extent of the LTE network deployment I wrote about above.  This should be good news for those supplying voice/video applications for these networks and for those providing mobile value-added services for these networks. 

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/lte-and-over-a-1000-words

Publish Date: November 8, 2016 5:00 AM


Time for IPX/Wholesale Operators to Pivot to Next Gen Services (Video)

I had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Joanne Turner from Total Telecom TV at the recent Carriers World and IPX Conference in London. We rehashed some of the topics and key “take-aways” from the two day conference (I covered these in more depth in a couple earlier blogs; one on a roundtable I chaired on virtualization and NFV, and another on a panel I participated on where we discussed collaboration efforts and pushing the IPX envelope with next gen applications and services.)In the video we go on to talk about the various facets of virtualization of infrastructure and services in the wholesale space:

  • Benefits - increased service velocity
  • Inhibitors - skills gap, and
  • Challenges - interoperability

Although I would say solving interoperability issues is well within the wheel house of IPX/wholesale operators’ core strengths.

Finally, I touch upon the services pivot by operators beyond a pure minutes play to hosted/managed voice, VoLTE/LTE hubbing, and contextual white label voice and video services. So take a look and let me know what you think by tweeting us @Dialogic. If you want to know more about layering on capabilities to offer differentiated services on top of existing IPX/wholesale infrastructure, reach out to me at Thomas.Schroer@dialogic.com.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/key-points-of-dialogic-nfv-vision-0

Publish Date: November 4, 2016 5:00 AM


LTE and Voice = VoLTE

Every year, Ericsson puts out a nice overall Mobility Report in June.  I’m finally getting around to reading it now.  There is some really nice information in there about IoT growth and 5G.

However, this one graphic really struck me.  Readers of my blog know I’ve been writing about VoLTE and Value-Added Service (VAS) applications recently, with my point being we are just at the cusp of seeing VAS growth with VoLTE.  

Some of the VAS will be the same types of value-added services as we see today (i.e. conferencing), but we’re also going to see new types of value-added services where voice is just a part of the service, not the main part of the service. 

This graph shows the huge potential with being attached to VoLTE.  I would suspect a large proportion of these applications will be run in a cloud of some sort.  Dialogic will be there to help either at the application layer or the media server layer.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/lte-and-voice-volte

Publish Date: October 25, 2016 5:00 AM


Whatever Happened to Dialogic Boards?

I stopped wearing Dialogic shirts in airports many many years ago, simply because I often got stopped by people who used our boards and wanted to talk about them.  I still remember the event that tipped me - someone asked me if a PEB bus could go to 5 feet in length.  (Note: I knew the answer back then, but I don’t remember what it was – probably no, though).

Anyway, I recently wore my Dialogic shirt in an airport for the first time in 15 years and voila, I got stopped by someone.  I guess I’m just such a friendly looking guy.  But anyway, the person wanted to know “what happened to Dialogic boards?” We had a good conversion.

So what happened to them?  Well, first of all, we still sell those boards – JCT, D/41’s, Diva, etc.  Not nearly as many as we used to, but yes, we still sell them.  This was shocking for this person to hear since, to him, the PSTN is “dead.” But the PSTN is still there, people still use it, solutions need to connect to it, and the Dialogic boards are excellent for that. Some companies also keep their solutions because they WORK with the Dialogic boards and put a VoIP gateway behind or in front of it to interface with the IP world. 

However, and this may be more shocking to readers, we still even get design wins for these boards.  Design wins on these boards in today’s day and age?  Why is that?   Well, there are some segments that still rely on the old infrastructure, and use modem technology to send data.  Aggregation of the modem data via a high density modem card is typical. 

One such segment is Point of Sale (POS) for instance and Dialogic has been active in this area for years. Additionally, IoT has enabled, or maybe I should say reinvigorated, remote metering.  Again, gas and electric meters send info via modem and an aggregation of the data needs to happen.  Dialogic has seen design win activity here as well.

So that’s what’s happened. 

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/whatever-happened-to-dialogic-boards

Publish Date: October 18, 2016 5:00 AM


Telecommunications in the Cloud – SIP Trunking

In life, saving money usually comes from giving up something, or reducing what you have.  The same applies in business, but here’s an exception…SIP trunking – the convergence of voice and data delivered over a single broadband connection that lowers costs and offers better service.  “Lowers costs and better service” sounds like an oxymoron, but in this case it is not, which is why SIP trunking is seeing explosive growth…

Compared to TDM and depending on the specifics of the business, SIP trunking can save a business anywhere from 25% to 60% on their telecom expenses.  SIP trunking can support voice, data, and video all over IP, meaning a single SIP trunk can replace multiple TDM trunks, drastically consolidating and simplifying the voice architecture – companies pay for one service rather than separate voice and data plans.  Additionally, a major reason for the cost savings comes from SIP trunking typically providing much more cost-effective long-distance calling than traditional solutions, as all long-distance calls basically become local calls.

SIP trunking also makes capacity planning/scaling and maintenance a lot less challenging because SIP trunks are virtual rather than physical. For example, during times of high call traffic when a business requires more voice capacity, SIP trunks can be easily adjusted in increments of one or more with a change to the software configuration within a matter of days.  On the other hand, traditional T1 or PRI service typically requires purchasing an additional physical trunk with 23 or 24 voice channels even though all the business may need is 10 more voice channels, not to mention it can take months to install a physical trunk.  This kind of flexibility and scalability which SIP trunking offers allows businesses to react swiftly to changing conditions.

Increased productivity is also another benefit SIP trunking brings through the combination of voice and data delivery.  Regardless of whether on-site or remote, every employee can enjoy voice calls, instant messaging, video conferencing, address books synced between devices, and more.  Employees who are on the road or working remotely never have to miss a call again, as their calls can be automatically routed to their mobile phone.  The same is true if a line is busy or if the office is closed.  [NOTE: click here for a good article on the difference between SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX, as although “these services are similar in function and feature, they also represent different means to the same end.”]

There really is very little doubt that SIP trunking is the way to go for a lot of businesses, but are there any businesses where SIP trunking may not be worth the investment?  Typically, if a business has only one central location, or if offices are located in a very concentrated geographic area, then SIP trunking will probably not be worth the time.  SIP trunking provides the most efficiency for businesses that have multiple locations spread out over a wide area, hence the cost savings noted above where long-distance calls basically become local calls.

According to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan titled Unshackling the Power of SIP Trunking, “SIP trunking effectively creates a new set of paradigms in business communications services.  The defining distinctions that SIP trunking services have over legacy telephony services are in the unprecedented levels of flexibility, scalability, and control that enterprises can have over their communications infrastructure.”

As I bring my three-part series on Telecommunications in the Cloud to an end with this blog, here are a few summarizing thoughts…

  • Network operators are in an ideal position to offer cloud-based telecommunications services based on their existing infrastructure.
  • CaaS offers network operators the ticket to becoming relevant again to the lucrative enterprise customer.
  • Today’s residential customer has higher expectations when it comes to their telecommunication’s requirements, largely due to the influence of the smartphone.
  • Increased productivity, flexibility, and lower costs are all tangible features offered to the enterprise by Hosted IP PBX and SIP Trunking.

There is very little doubt that the future of telecommunications will be heavily in the cloud with application development companies like Dialogic taking the lead and offering network operators and enterprises applications like their PowerVille Cloud Centrex.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/telecommunications-in-the-cloud-sip-trunking

Publish Date: October 7, 2016 5:00 AM


Does Virtualization Make Sense for IPX?

I recently led a lively roundtable discussion on virtualization, NFV, and SDN at the recent IPX Summit  in London. We had a healthy cross section of industry participants including representatives from carriers, mobile operators, equipment vendors, software centric solution vendors (like Dialogic), analysts, systems integration, and test and measurement. The question posed to the group was whether virtualization made sense for carriers and IPX operators beyond the confines of the traditional data center, and this definitely made for an interactive discussion.

The Central Office Reimagined: CORD

The title of the roundtable was misleading, I thought, because today, the central office has become or is becoming more of what we recognize now as a data center.  Take the CORD initiative for example. The name alone, which is an acronym for Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter provides insight into the direction telecommunications is moving. The CORD project is all about virtualizing legacy hardware devices that are currently deployed in Central Offices. The reference implementation of CORD supports several elastically scalable multitenant services including access as a service.  

What’s clear is that data center virtualization and automation techniques are being adopted by service providers and carriers in ways that will have a profound effect on how services are implemented and delivered.

Virtualization in the Access

There are quite a few examples of commercial offerings carriers have introduced that already incorporate SDN and NFV concepts. Some of the examples discussed at the roundtable included services and announcements such as:

  • DTAG’s VPN service that includes firewall capabilities, web security, site to site connectivity, and customer self-serve features like subscription, activation, and modification.
  • SD WAN or vWAN services involving SDN and NFV technology to deliver high performance, encrypted, traffic optimized bandwidth on demand across standard IP pipes
  • PCCW Global’s VPN and Cloud offerings which feature on demand, self-service connectivity
  • Telstra’s PEN SDN-based service that allows customers to connect their network services globally and with those of other PEN customers without having to wait for the delivery and installation of hardware appliances.

While the on-demand and self service capabilities of these services are appealing, there is an underlying physical resource aspect that can’t be overlooked. One of the operators indicated that these services were being primarily used to provide connectivity to Amazon and Azure. And while they definitely provide more traction to carriers and enable subscribers to adjust bandwidth as needed or burst when required, there is still a limitation in the access of the physical pipe used to service the customers. But the consensus was that virtualization in the access allows for:

  • Rapid service turn-up
  • A migration away from spreadsheet provisioning
  • A high degree of automation and programmability

Regulations and Virtualization

One surprising insight from the roundtable was the impact that regulations played when it came to virtualization. This could become a particularly sticky issue in Europe where there are “some of the strictest data privacy regulations in the world.” According to those at the roundtable, regulation is an issue that could make certain uses of public cloud and virtualization not feasible or limit the services supported to the confines of the country served. This could impact operators providing hosted services via cloud infrastructure.

Skills Gap Still an Issue

Another roadblock on the road to virtualization observed by a systems integrator is the skillset gap within the operators when it comes to virtualization and cloud technology. Virtualization, NFV, and SDN introduce an entirely new set of terms, tools, and administrative practices that in many ways are orthogonal to traditional network and telecom deployments. Experience in hypervisors and cloud management systems like OpenStack require an expanded set of skills and scripting expertise with languages like YAML and YANG, and also requires an understanding of how the various OpenStack modules like Nova, Neutron, Glance and Ceilometer come into play. I touched on this topic and how one operator was addressing it in an earlier blog. Regardless, it is a problem or opportunity depending on how you look at it

Open Source Virtualization

One vendor brought up the issue of hypervisor uptake, particularly KVM as a source for slow rolling virtualization, however, the industry will have to account for operators deploying a mix of VMware, KVM and Xen as well as using public clouds like AWS for part of the service. Advances in virtualization technology have made NFV especially for real-time multimedia Virtualized Network Functions more of a reality, so support for different hypervisor environments will continue to be important.

Start the Journey Now

Are these challenges enough to slow roll virtualization? In fact it’s the opposite. A representative from one of the companies moving towards SDN-based offerings indicated it was important to deploy virtualized infrastructure and get comfortable with NFV/SDN now. Another operator was already underway with proof of concepts leading to commercial deployments for EPC components such as the authentication gateway.  Small MNOs were seen to be more aggressive in moving forward with virtualization of infrastructure and services since they don’t have the massive inertia and baggage from legacy services and infrastructure from which they would need to migrate. The cost for moving off legacy TDM for larger operators can be substantial, but as one participant pointed out, it may cost more not to take action when taking into account the extra maintenance, inefficiencies and operational costs to support end-of-life infrastructure compared to virtualized environments.

The Market Reacts

Regardless, one Systems Integrator that has been helping operators formulate RFPs for moving to the cloud observed several trends that they are seeing with operators that they deal with:

  • A hybrid approach using public and private clouds
  • Seeking independent advice when it comes to cloud orchestration and management
  • Use of open source approaches, ISVs, and major NEMs for orchestration
  • Development of in-house orchestration and management

What is the business case? Is it a no brainer? One participant noted that when it comes to a green field approach to virtualizing infrastructure, there is definitely a business case. When doing the analysis, they advised the group to definitely take into account the cost of legacy infrastructure support since that cost will continue to rise as more functions go end of life. (Click here to get access to a white paper that quantifies the benefits of NFV and virtualization by PA Consulting.)

Interoperability is Paramount

Regardless of the quantitative benefits of virtualization and NFV, one of the bigger barriers seen by the group was multivendor interoperability. Interoperability is not only an issue between virtualized applications, but also between applications and the virtualized environment (MANO, VIM, hypervisor environments) in which they’re deployed. Even in the presence of standards and specifications emerging from ETSI, OpenStack, OASIS, Open Networking Foundation, Open Source MANO, and OPNFV, interoperability will still be an issue. While issues with interoperability could possibly slow roll the spread of virtualization in and outside data centers, this may be an opportunity for next generation telecommunications providers. Helping operators overcome interoperability issues between networks has long been the value-add of wholesalers and IPX operators. Who knows, in the future, wholesalers/IPX providers may be an enabler of hosted service options and interoperability between operator “clouds!”

Let us know what you think about virtualization in the wholesale/IPX space, and what new service features as well as new services are becoming possible as operators adopt this technology in their networks. You can tweet us at @Dialogic.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/does-virtualization-make-sense-for-ipx

Publish Date: October 6, 2016 5:00 AM


Video Conferencing Arrives in Buffalo

Being born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I've heard every joke and stereotype imaginable: 

  • Yes, I know the acronym for BILLS is Boy, I Love Losing SuperBowls....
  • No, Buffalo is not basically part of Canada, eh...
  • Yes, we buy our your kid's halloween costume two sizes too big so it can fit over the snowsuit....
  • No, everyone does not eat Buffalo wings (we just call them wings).... 

Ok maybe the last one is true and to top it off, Buffalo has never been on the bleeding-edge of adopting technology. We're not luddites, but rather fashionably late to every party. But something caught my eye while I was walking through the Buffalo airport last week. It was something I've never seen in all my travels at any airport. There it was, near the luggage claim, next to the car pickup area - a brand new, shiny public videophone booth. Like a dog with two tales, I immediately needed to check it out.

Developed by Sorenson VRS (a Dialogic customer), the videophone booth is for individuals with hearing disabilities, enabling them to utilize sign-language interpreters for communicating with voice telephone users. For individuals with hearing disabilities and their interpreters, having high quality video is not important; it's critical. The subtleties of sign language need to be picked up by the interpreter and if missed, can mean the difference between 'I am sick' and 'I am disease'... close but not the same. Fortunately, WebRTC is the technology that enables high quality video to the clients/customers but it's those server-side infrastructure features such as transcoding and centralized recording that deliver a premium business-class service. 

Perhaps WebRTC has closed the ubiquitous gap needed for video acceptance...or just maybe the arrival of video in Buffalo is a sign the times are changing. Maybe from now on we'll be to the party on time; don't worry we'll bring the wings, eh. 

//Vince

@vfpuglia

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/video-conferencing-arrives-in-buffalo

Publish Date: October 5, 2016 5:00 AM


Telecommunications in the Cloud – Class 5/Residential Services (2 of 3)

In my first of three blogs on Telecommunications in the Cloud, I discussed how the growth and importance of telecommunications combined with the continually growing reliability, security, and cost-efficiency of the hosted model (in the cloud) has created enterprise and residential services that can’t be ignored.  Specifically, I discussed Hosted IP PBX for enterprises, a Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) that is a win-win for both the network operator to offer and the enterprise to subscribe to.

In this second blog, I would like to discuss how telecommunications in the cloud can benefit residential customers (including small office/home office) with high-quality, feature rich calling services, while once again being a profitable opportunity for network operators.

Today’s residential customer has higher expectations when it comes to their telecommunication’s requirements, largely due to the influence of the smartphone.  They are interested in much more than a simple answering machine for their home; they are looking for features such as conferencing, voicemail, video calling, do-not-disturb, along with the standard caller ID and call hold/transfer/forward/wait.  Much like their enterprise counterparts, they too are interested in a self-service component, where user configuration and control is provided via a standard web-based portal to make services like conference calling and call forwarding easier to manage and new services simpler to deploy.  

For the network operator (a.k.a. service provider), offering Class 5/Residential Services can also be lucrative, but it is a number’s game based on the quantity of residential subscribers.  What I mean is that network operators, like almost any other business, charge enterprises more for services than they do their residential customers, but they have less of them.  However, the overall revenue difference can be minimized because the number of residential subscribers is generally more than enterprises.

At this point you may be asking yourself two questions…

1. What about all those residential customers who are dumping their landlines and only using their mobile phones?

2. Don’t residential customers need IP at home if they are going to subscribe to services in the cloud?

Two good questions.  There is no denying that there has been a trend now for many years where residential customers are dumping their landlines.  In fact, according to a study released by the National Center of Health Statistics (NHIS) in December of 2015, “Nearly one-half of American homes (47.4%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the first half of 2015—an increase of 3.4 percentage points since the first half of 2014.”

However, the beauty of telecommunications in the cloud is that you don’t need your landline.  By using an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), you can connect your traditional analog telephone to the VoIP network (your internet) and start benefiting from all of the services offered in the cloud…pretty simple.

In my third and final blog on Telecommunication in the Cloud, I will discuss SIP Trunking, which is another service network operators should consider for revenue growth.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/telecommunications-in-the-cloud-class-5/residential-services-2-of-3

Publish Date: September 16, 2016 5:00 AM


Telecommunications in the Cloud – Hosted IP PBX (1 of 3)

It is pretty obvious these days that both in our professional and personal lives, telecommunications is playing a much bigger and more vital role than it has in the past.  One doesn’t need to be an analyst to draw this conclusion, as the empirical evidence is pretty clear with all of the (mobile) devices (e.g. phone, tablet) everyone has one or more of.  Add to this the continually growing reliability, security, and cost-efficiency of the hosted model (in the cloud), and you have enterprise and residential services that can’t be ignored.

One such service is the Hosted IP PBX for the enterprise, which is the topic of this blog and the first in my three-blog series I am calling Telecommunications in the Cloud.

The Enterprise: To buy or to lease?  On-premise or in the cloud?  These two questions are being asked more and more every day by enterprises of all sizes when it comes to their telecommunications needs.  Both have their pros and cons, with two of the most obvious being control and cost.  Large enterprises typically like to be in control of their telecommunications needs, which is why a lot, if not most, of them keep telecommunications in-house.  On the other hand, cost is a top concern for small and medium-sized enterprises, which is where Hosted IP PBX finds its sweet spot.

The Network Operator: The growth and acceptance of cloud-based services combined with their existing infrastructure puts network operators in an ideal position to offer Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) to their enterprise customers.  One such CaaS is the Hosted IP PBX, which enables network operators to become “relevant” again in the lucrative enterprise market.  NOTE: CaaS, such as Hosted IP PBX, can also be offered to enterprises by telecommunications service providers who are not network operators.

Knowing that Hosted IP PBX is a win-win for both network operators and enterprises, let’s look at what Hosted IP PBX has to offer.  In short, Hosted IP PBX is a business-class phone service provided over the internet allowing small and medium-sized businesses to have a sophisticated telephone system without the CAPEX investment in telephone equipment.  In fact, the entire telephone system is hosted (operated and maintained) at an off-site location by the network operator. 

Hosted IP PBX also enhances the traditional telecom architecture by enabling a self-services component to the enterprise subscriber.  Commonly through the secured web, user configuration and control is provided via a standard web-based portal that enhances basic phone functionality to make standard services like multi-device ringing, conference calling, call move, and call forwarding easier to manage and new services simpler to deploy.  For example, with a simple click on a web page, the subscriber can choose to forward calls to their mobile phone or have it ring on all of their assigned numbers.

Which small and medium-sized business wouldn’t want to off-load the operation and maintenance of their telecommunications system that brings the following benefits and more?

  • Personnel Savings – with employee salaries typically making up the largest portion of a business’s budget, eliminating the need for in-house telecommunications/IT staff to manage the system, address problems, perform upgrades, etc. is the first of many benefits of Hosted IP PBX.
  • Total Cost of Ownership – not having to make an initial large upfront investment purchasing an office telephone system (shifting CAPEX to OPEX) allows that money to be used more strategically. Furthermore, on-going savings include low-cost inter-office/long-distance calling, and eliminating system maintenance and upgrades, with the added benefits of a predictable monthly cost and simplified vendor management for multiple services.
  • Scalability – all businesses have spikes in their capacity demands, but not all have the luxury of meeting these demands, unless they have Hosted IP PBX, where they can quickly and easily expand and grow without having to add costly hardware and endure time-consuming installations.
  • Flexibility – employees can work from just about anywhere that has an IP connection: home, hotel, airport, mobile phone, etc. while keeping features such as call transfer, auto attendant, music-on-hold, and conference calling, leading to enhanced productivity, all the while managing their own profiles through an on-line portal.
  • Business Continuity – Hosted IP PBX service providers offer disaster recovery options as they have multiple carrier-grade hosting centers with fully redundant servers in case of emergencies, such as fire, flood, or power outage, quickly and easily routing calls to alternative locations or mobile phones, enabling for business as usual.

With most network operators looking for ways to increase revenue and not be diminished to the passive role of providing only dumb pipes, CaaS is a clear opportunity.  Enterprises are always looking for ways to lower costs, while maintaining (or even increasing) their level of service and Hosted IP PBX is one such service that can accomplish both.

In part 2 of 3 of my blog on Telecommunication in the Cloud, I will discuss Class 5/Residential Services as another service network operators could consider.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/telecommunications-in-the-cloud-hosted-ip-pbx-1-of-3

Publish Date: September 2, 2016 5:00 AM


Why Automation Is Key to Your OPNFV Deployment (OPNFV Demystified P7)

While OPNFV and Openstack provide a convenient virtualized environment for deploying and running network-oriented applications, there is another whole dimension to what may be done with it. With conventional computing, you need to wheel in another box, install things, and then modify your networked environment to take the new hardware into account. With a virtualization, you avoid dealing with hardware each time you need to increase an application’s capacity, and can “spin up” additional virtual machines and then configure the environment accordingly. And, in a well-designed OPNFV environment, all of this can be done automatically.

While OPNFV doesn’t come with a magic “gimme more” button, the components are there to put together such a button yourself. Here’s what’s involved:

  • The Openstack Heat project. This “implements an orchestration engine to launch multiple composite cloud applications based on templates in the form of text files that can be treated like code.” This means that you can define exactly how you want to run your networked application – size of the instance(s) used, which application image(s) you want, networks and ports that need to be created to tie things together, static vs. DHCP IP addresses, and application-specific configuration. Like other Openstack components, you have a choice of invoking Heat templates through the Horizon GUI or through a CLI. While not a true programming language, Heat’s YAML format allows for a fair amount of flexibility, which makes things readable and maintainable.
  • Telemetry. OPNFV, by default, comes with a telemetry node based on the Ceilometer project. By default, this node collects Openstack performance data and uses a Mongo DB to store it. It may also be used as a convenient place to store application performance data.
  • Application-specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  These are statistics that pertain to the application itself, rather than the platform it runs on. This could be things like the number of simultaneous users logged in, the number of licenses in use vs. the number of licenses available on the node, or the number of people using some other limited application resource. By monitoring these sorts of values, it can become apparent that additional application resources are needed, and that new VMs must be started and connected. And, the opposite can happen when resources are no longer needed.
  • Heat Orchestration Templates (HOT). This might be considered the first level of automatic scaling. The infrastructure to direct Openstack on how to add additional VNF components is defined by Heat. HOT has rudimentary abilities that allow some system-oriented performance indicators to be monitored. This would include CPU and disk usage and network performance indicators. Additional VNF components are then started when the need arises, and torn down when they are no longer needed.
  • Full Management and Orchestration (MANO). Not really a part of OPNFV yet, but sure to be in the future. There are a variety of MANO products and projects out there in their formative stages, including the Openstack Tacker project, Open Source MANO/Rift.io and Open Baton.

While I’ve been trying to avoid mentioning too much specific to our media server VNF, it wouldn’t be bad to use it for an example of some things that have to be taken into account when scaling applications. Let’s look at video conferencing. There is a finite capacity to the number of caller sessions that can be done on a single VM, and callers are divided up into specific, discrete conferences. What happens if we are running out of room and need to expand? We can’t just allow more callers into an already jammed conference or put them in a new conference that they aren’t supposed to be in.

Well, there is another node in our VNF call a Media Resource Broker (MRB). Here, the intelligence is found that keeps track of the multiple media servers and their capabilities -  things like codecs and resolutions available.  Knowing what sort of conferencing facilities are available, it is able to quickly move conferences from an almost “full” server to one with spare capacity. All of this can happen when a new caller arrives and puts the media server over the edge.

But, one thing it can’t do is start up additional media servers. It can only deal with existing servers that it already knows about. That’s where OPNFV management and orchestration come into play. When a threshold (as defined by an application KPI) is exceeded, a new media server is started. As part of its startup and configuration, it registers itself with an MRB so that the MRB becomes aware of its additional resources, and can adjust the conferences it manages accordingly.

Now, your application may well work differently, and may require different KPIs and scaling schemes. But, the principles will be the same, and it’s likely that some application involvement will be needed.

This concludes my series of OPNFV blogs for now. But, more will be sure to follow. We might want to take a deeper look into Heat templates and MANO, and there will certainly be things to say about our proposed OPNFV-based, company-wide QA and test environment that is just getting off the ground. And I’m sure there will be other topics I haven’t even thought of yet.

Thanks for reading!

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/why-automation-is-key-to-your-opnfv-deployment-opnfv-demystified-p7

Publish Date: August 25, 2016 5:00 AM


End of Messaging?

Chetan Sharma has been discoursing on what he calls the “4th wave of mobile communications” for some time.  And I’ve commented on some of this from time to time.  He recently put out an update of the 4th wave paper called the “4th Wave Index: Benchmarking the Growth and Evolution of the Mobile Ecosystem.”  It’s an excellent paper.  On the last page, there is a bold subhead that totally caught my eye.  It said “Voice and Messaging Revenue line items will disappear from operating financials in the next 5-10 years.” 

First of all, it does not mean that there won’t be any voice or any messaging.  Obviously, there will be voice minutes, and there will be messaging such as text messages, and there will be integrated social media type of communications, etc.  But it does mean a few things:

1. Voice and Messaging erosion from the apps that run on the data networks obviate any need to continually point out this negative trend. When it gets small enough, there is no need to point it out anymore.

2. Social networking provides different kinds of communications. It could incorporate voice, it could incorporate text.  It’s intertwined more now and not so disparate.

3. The mobile service providers will be moving to what Chetan calls the “4th wave of mobile revenues” and will report on that.

4. The move to IP means that everything is data. Voice is a type of data.  Text is a type of data.  Video streaming is a type of data.  Different metrics will be used to measure success.

The 4th wave is extremely exciting not only for mobile service providers, but also for application developers such as Dialogic.  There are opportunities to add value in very many different ways.  One such way I have written about recently is real-time communications and value-added services that go with them.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/end-of-messaging

Publish Date: August 23, 2016 5:00 AM


Robocalls Call for Service Provider Intervention

Robocalls have been getting quite a bit of ink lately in the United States.  Robocalls are those annoying auto-dialer calls you may get.  The US FCC has stepped in and asked the US service providers to provide robocall blocking services.  In many ways, this really is nothing new.  Robocalling has been a problem for years.  I had put my name on a do not call list many many years ago with great success (Go to www.donotcall.gov).  However, that was my home phone.  They are now coming to my mobile phone, so I’m going to have to register that phone number. 

Tricking callers by displaying fake caller IDs is easier now than it’s ever been, which is one of the reasons why this issue has come up again.  If you go to Google and type “robocall” the first things you see are 4 sponsored ads that enable you to send robocalls!

However, it is illegal. The FTC’s website says “If you receive a robocall trying to sell you something (and you haven’t given the caller your written permission), it’s an illegal call. You should hang up. Then, file a complaint with the FTC and the National Do Not Call Registry.”

Note you can still get phone calls from “existing relationships.” For example, I periodically get automated, sometimes even somewhat personalized, phone calls from the New York Giants or members of the New York Giants as I have season tickets with them.  And I don’t think it’s possible to escape the political robocalls if you are registered with a party, though especially this year, I wish I could.

What is new is that the FCC has asked the service providers to provide call blocking services, and not leave it up to the consumer to do all this work.  There are multiple solutions to this issue at the network level, one of which is putting a call blocking application with the Class 4 switch. And the Dialogic ControlSwitch can help.  To find out more, contact us here.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/robocalls-call-for-service-provider-intervention

Publish Date: August 16, 2016 5:00 AM


My Take on Voice over WiFi

I live in a small town outside New York City in a very densely populated area.  However, ever since I’ve had a mobile phone, I have had inconsistent mobile phone service from my wireless provider – Verizon Wireless.  When I make phone calls from my home, often I have to stand out on the back yard and find just the right location to get decent service.  And forget about LTE service.  

I know for sure that Verizon Wireless is trying to rectify the service problems in our town by applying to install a network of antennae.  However, they are being delayed by town politics and townspeople worrying about radiation issues and aesthetics.

Most of us in the town have learned to live with this poor level of service, and no one is happy.  When we get together with neighbors, the discussion always gets around to bad mobile service. That is, who is providing the least worst level of service: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile.  These discussions have been going on for years. Everyone is willing to switch to a new provider once a good solution is found.

In this environment, I decided to configure my iPhone for Voice over WiFi service.  My carrier, Verizon Wireless, enabled Voice over WiFi on the latest release of my iPhone.  I was hoping that the voice quality was better and that there would be no more dropped calls.

I’ve been very happy.  The voice quality has been consistently good and I’m having no dropped calls. 

The mobile carriers are making big investments in a range of mobile technology and solutions to keep up with surge in usage.  See Jim Machi’s blog with commentary on the latest Cisco VNI forecast.

I’ve always been loyal to Verizon Wireless, and have had to settle for inconsistent service when home.  However, the new Voice over WiFi capability is something I’m very impressed with.   I think I’ll be with Verizon for a while now.

The neighbors and I will have to find something else to complain about around town now.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/my-take-on-voice-over-wifi

Publish Date: August 15, 2016 5:00 AM


HD Voice Finally Comes of Age

It’s been quite a while since I wrote about HD voice.  When HD voice was first coming to the market 7 or 8 years ago, Dialogic was pretty active in marketing it’s importance and talking about it.  We knew that HD voice would be used when VoLTE was implemented.  And we saw many cases where Value Added Services  needed to be upgraded to insure that HD voice was carried over from just a phone call to the Value Added Service (for instance, voice mail) in question.  It’s taken longer than many of us thought. 

However, it’s here and fairly ubiquitious now.  Apple supports it in the their new phones, WebRTC has this capability built in, and HD voice codecs are used in all OTT offerings such as Google Voice and Skype.  I am finally now taking calls on HD voice. I know this simply because I can hear the difference. 

It’s interesting how the marketing of HD voice is working with the wireless service providers.  In the US at least, service providers are actively marketing it as a benefit of VoLTE.  AT&T makes a big deal about it and so does Verizon.  Sprint, somewhat less, but it’s on their website if you dig a little.

This may be the last blog I write about HD voice, simply because it’s now integrated into many different offerings.  I would expect the marketing of HD voice to start to subside now – it’s not really a differentiator anymore, so why market it when it’s not differentiated? I’m sure there will be a “next thing” to talk about with voice. Apparently, Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) is a big deal. Whatever the “next thing” is, I’ll be writing about it.  

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/hd-voice-finally-comes-of-age

Publish Date: August 9, 2016 5:00 AM

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