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Ten Ways The Cloud Will Reshape Voice
|20 ноября 2009|
There is considerable discussion about the oncoming impacts of cloud computing and how it will reshape (or eliminate) the enterprise data center. But until recently, there has been relatively little discussion about how cloud technologies will impact telecommunications, or specifically enterprise voice.
There is no question that the emerging technologies will reshape voice significantly. But exactly how is still unclear; the technologies are young and overlapping. The term "the cloud" is used to represent many technologies and models ranging from simple outsourced services to virtual on-demand distributed services.
The following is a brief description of ten ways the cloud and cloud computing will impact the voice landscape.
1) Hosted Voice While hosted voice may appear to be the quintessential cloud application, it actually predates the cloud craze. It fits into the simpler hosted cloud service category rather than cloud computing. Nonetheless, hosted voice will directly benefit from the increasing popularity in cloud computing as attitudes about products transition into preferences for services.
In traditional outsourced environments the PBX remained on-site. Hosted voice simplifies operations and budgets. Hosted voice can deliver consistent enterprise services to all locations, including home users.
2) The Simple PBX This was discussed in the No Jitter feature about simplifying the PBX. The concept is phone systems may be reduced to core functions (intercom, paging, 911) and combined with external service(s) for advanced features. Up until recently, advanced features were obtained with advanced phone systems with their associated baggage (advanced feature packs, dedicated servers, and specialized proprietary phones). But now a real alternative is emerging where these advanced features can be delivered over the cloud from one or more systems/services to any phone system; including voice mail/unified messaging, voice mail transcription, conferencing, conferencing transcription, record a call, presence, call center queues, click to dial, ring-all, calendar integration, etc.
The concept isn't particularly radical--most "enhanced" features such as voice messaging were always available as external services. What is new is the ability to implement rich and plentiful features nationally or globally; easily and inexpensively. This will make a simple phone system a cost effective means to a feature rich enterprise voice solution.
3) Virtual PBX This is different from hosted voice but looks similar to end users. Here, the enterprise retains the benefits of owning and controlling their phone system (licenses)--it just doesn't "physically" exist. VoIP phone systems are software and many vendors now offer their solutions as software only. Trunks and phones are connected over standard IP connections such as SIP or H.323.
Separating the call control software from previously proprietary hardware creates a virtualization opportunity. The question is, does it make sense to install this software on a dedicated physical server or a virtual server? And if a virtual server, should it be installed in a public or private cloud service?
It isn't just an issue of economics. Cloud services charge by utilization, and most phone systems sit nearly idle outside of business hours. Housing a virtual system in a cloud service could be the best way to support a distributed user base with streamlined integration to other services. If not the PBX, it might be specific voice services (such as messaging) or a portion of the PBX to accommodate peak demand. Expect to see more voice vendors supporting implementations on virtual platforms such a VMWare or XEN.
4) Virtual PBX System This is similar to the Virtual PBX above, but innovatively packages the acquisition and installation as a cloud service itself. Siemens Enterprise demonstrated this at VoiceCon in Orlando 2009 as a proof of concept; it's still not publicly available.
This model transitions PBX acquisition and implementation to a web-store experience. The idea is the core software and instance are purchased/implemented through a web-store front-end-- along with phones, SIP trunks, even a VPN as an entire solution. Software assurance would likely be included, but upgrades remain in the control of the owner. This gives the enterprise customer the benefits of a controlled system disguised as a hosted (and supported) solution.
There are multiple variables to exactly how this could be implemented and delivered. It could effectively turn a PBX implementation into an App Store model--with tested third party components and applications. Siemens continues to develop this model, seeking to add more robust options, even integration with social services and a recently announced SDK for third party customization.
5) Voice Enabling APIs The web is changing the face of computing with APIs--more and more services and applications will support open and published methods for queries or updates.
Phone systems are not known for their integration or mashup capabilities, but this is rapidly changing. A "mashup" is an application that combines data or functionality from external sources creating a new service; this is usually done via open APIs and/or data sources to produce new results. The first examples in the PBX world leveraged screen pops to access information on other systems such as a Google Maps lookup.
But now the roles are reversing and it's the external systems that are accessing APIs on the voice system. Digium's Switchvox offers the Extend API which allows developers to access PBX administrative functions. External programs can create/modify/delete users or extensions. More traditionally, the PBX could call external systems, such as an IVR script accessing a medical practice's online appointment book to make outbound reminder calls. A new breed of companies including Twilio, Cloudvox, Voxygen, IfByPhone, Voxeo, and Jaduka leverage APIs for such voice-on-demand services. These vendors completely bypass the PBX and even the telecom staff.
6) PhoneTop Applications Most IP phones have limited browser capabilities which are largely untapped. The opportunity is that applications can be specifically created to run on the phone top. The limiting reality is most phones are placed right next to a computer desktop which offer far more capabilities, but this isn't always the case.
Consider Victory Solutions' use of Aastra SIP phones to create a powerful tool for political campaign volunteers. With simple setup and an Internet connection, any location can be transformed into an outbound call center. Volunteers follow prompts on the XML screen to initiate calls and record results. The capability has been there for a while, but the cloud is changing the economics; specialized apps for K-12 (attendance and school emergency/safety services) and hospitality (room service, tee times, valet parking) are emerging. The fact is phones exist in more locations than computers do. This trend may transform the current IP phone. Alcatel-Lucent offers a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. Cloud Telecomputers produces an Android IP phone capable of running applets.
7) Mobility and The PSTN API This is the concept of using the PSTN, or specifically DID numbers, for voice system integrations. This Super-PBX transforms cell phones, home phones, digital phones, office phones, soft phones, even hotel phones into virtual PBX extensions by routing calls to the phones' DID number. But unlike call forwarding, the Super PBX doesn't disconnect after the call is answered, it continues to monitor the line for requests such as recording or to transfer the call.
Most PBX features can be delivered to any phone including call center features, call transfer, even record-a-call. This model can go as far as replacing traditional desk phones since advanced features can be extended to mobile phones. Available solutions today include Avaya's Direct-X and Mitel's Dynamic Extension.
8) Virtual Phone Although all IP-PBX systems support soft phones, none are as aggressively pushing it as Microsoft with OCS implementations. The basic philosophy is the computer desktop has far more capability than a phone. A computer (full keyboard and monitor) outfitted with a headset or handset can deliver a more powerful solution.
Microsoft is integrating voice-related services into multiple products including Microsoft Office and Exchange. As enterprise services such as presence, collaboration, mobility, and videoconferencing expand, expect tighter integration into the desktop computer for comprehensive UC services in a way the standalone phone never could. Additionally, the servers are frequently moving off-site and being consolidated in a remote (cloud?) location.
9) Distributed Phone Systems Phone systems traditionally are largely site-centric to a specific location. SIP and other IP communications are not geographically limited.
This means not only can phones be distributed among locations, but so can various components of the phone system. The conference bridge located in Denver, the voice mail system in Seattle, the main call manager in Dallas, a session manager in Seattle, the call center agents in their homes across the country, and the enterprise presence server provided through a cloud service.
Even if all the systems are traditionally-owned CPE, networking options and cloud services will change the way we do things. Or another configuration is utilizing cloud services for overflow or burst capacity and sizing on-site servers smaller.
10) All of the Above Well, maybe not all, but certainly some or several of the above models combined together is likely. Load a phone system on a virtual server in the cloud, integrate it with multiple APIs and PSTN phones. Create new powerful XML applications that utilize the browser and integrate API calls directly into desktop computer applications. The only thing clear is that voice systems will look very different than the big-iron PBX of the past.
The cloud changes everything, and nothing. Solid voice engineering becomes more critical than ever, proper dial plan design, disaster recovery planning, network engineering, auto attendant design, call center techniques, etc. remain valuable and important. The chain link strength theory applies, and the cloud via distributed systems can make a very long chain.
Voice systems are no longer an island. It isn't "if" enterprise voice will use the cloud, but more appropriately "when" or "how". Enterprise voice is about to enter a period of extreme innovation--more so than ever.
Источник: No Jitter