SkySwitch High Availability Explained

We are often asked how we achieve such phenomenal uptime and are able to offer 99.99 service level guarantees. The answer lies in the revolutionary network design that serves as the foundation of our unified communications and collaboration platform.

SkySwitch n-Share ArchitectureThe SkySwitch WebCentrex platform uses always-available n-Share clusters co-located in New York and Dallas.

Most high-availability or n+1 redundancy schemes rely on a primary and failover node. In contrast, the n-Share system is Always Available.  That means that we provide identical service across multiple locations in real-time. With seamless and transparent failover between nodes, service disruptions are avoided because customer connections are automatically transferred to any nodes available.
So, a voicemail can be left on a Dallas feature server, and retrieved on the New York server immediately, even if the Dallas server is no longer available. It also means that feature options (such as call-forwarding or other * codes) take effect across all servers immediately.

As network traffic grows, SkySwitch adds capacity by deploying additional n-Share nodes. Newly added nodes are added to the n-Share mesh and automatically become available to share call processing tasks across all nodes dynamically and with zero downtime.  This means that we can expand to accommodate Reseller growth with zero impact on the availability of services to end users.

Where other high-availability schemes require the use of active and standby servers (with the standby servers left idle in readiness for a problem) n-Share creates efficiencies by dynamically distributing load across all available servers. This means that load can be dynamically shared across all connected nodes based on geographic distance from the user. Especially in cases where media-anchoring is required, this optimizes quality of service by ensuring voice and video payload will take the shortest path between the sender and receiver.

Mobile workers are now using SIP mobility clients (such as the ReachUC apps) running over 3G and 4G wireless networks, where network conditions are often unpredictable. As a result, the ability to maximize quality of service in a scalable and reliable way is becoming more important than ever.  On that front, SkySwitch has you covered.

Yealink “S” Series Supports Opus Codec

Yealink TXXsWe recently received the new Yealink T4x S series phones into our lab for testing.  These are upgraded versions of the T41P/T42G/T46G/T48G.

Appearance-wise they look identical to their predecessors.  The big news is that they they support the Opus codec.  Opus is the first royalty-free adaptive codec to gain support from major telecom and software industry players.  This means that, unlike other codecs that performed well but were avoided by telecom equipment vendors due to commercial, patent and royalty requirements (think of Skype’s SILK codec and Speex, the low-bandwidth codec of choice among Asterisk users), Opus is being widely adopted by equipment and software makers in many industries.

The fact that Opus is adaptive means that it delivers high-quality audio when bandwidth is available, and delivers good audio in environments where bandwidth is constrained.  Opus delivers better quality audio than G.722 in high-bandwidth conditions, and performs better than iLBC in low bandwidth situations.   Having a single codec that is versatile enough to perform well in all network environments means that networks can be designed with less complexity, and therefore greater reliability.

Opus is also the codec of choice for WebRTC.  This means that multi-media sessions initiated by a browser will always have Opus as an available codec choice.  Although other codecs may be available as well, they may not, and this uncertainty will cause havoc to service providers when a WebRTC sessions needs to connect to the PSTN.   In a perfect world, WebRTC sessions will be able to “bridge in” standard SIP desk phones and PSTN users in a uniform way.  Having this capability in Yealink phones means that wholesale adoption of  WebRTC is one step closer to reality.

The other notable features of the new series are:

  • Support for HAC (Hearing Aid Compatible) handsets
  • The T41S & T42S have an additional USB port in preparation for upcoming support (by a firmware upgrade) of USB recording, Bluetooth (via the BT40) and Wi-Fi (via the WF40).

CCaaS Reseller Powers MyPillow’s Growth

mypillow-05082014SkySwitch Reseller, Davco Technologies Inc., is featured in a Customer Magazine case study about the solution it designed for online pillow powerhouse MyPillow.

Davco used the SkySwitch CCaaS platform to create a unique solution that allowed MyPillow to handily exceed its goals.

According to Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, “[t]he system … is a game changer. Since word spread about the new MyPillow work environment job-seekers have been stacking up like “cord wood” to apply for open agent positions because we give them the flexibility to work when and where they want, and they know that hard work has tangible results here.”

The SkySwitch CCaaS solution is a true multi-tenant cloud service that delivers all of the features and functionality of an enterprise grade contact center platform in a format that maximizes a reseller’s opportunity for success. Resellers can leverage SkySwitch to empower any small business, such as a doctor’s office or a real estate agency, with the same advanced contact center tools used by the largest corporations. More than that, by building on the system’s open architecture, resellers can create innovative bespoke solutions such as the one that Davco created for MyPillow.

The SkySwitch Call Center as a Service offering has an open API that allows SkySwitch Resellers to integrate and customize applications system-wide or on a per tenant basis. With these options, it is possible to tightly integrate 3rd party applications, such as CRM or ERP, into agent desktops, as well as allow business customers to build and execute their own custom applications.

To read the SkySwitch case study, download it here.

 

Improvements in Yealink Interoperability are Coming

We are happy to be making progress in our ongoing interoperability tests with Yealink.    By mid-October, we expect to have new firmware that will fix some of the outstanding issues that SkySwitch Resellers have experienced with Yealink phones.


 

SkySwitch and Yealink Announce Solution Interoperability and Evaluation Program

Relationship will allow SkySwitch Reseller Network to Deploy Yealink SIP Phones with Confidence

Xiamen, China and Lakeland, Florida USA – September 27, 2016 – Yealink, the global leading unified communication (UC) terminal solution provider, and SkySwitch, the Ultimate White Label Platform for Hosted PBX Resellers, jointly announced today the certification of ten Yealink desktop IP phones with all major features of the SkySwitch WebCentrex platform. The supported Yealink endpoints, including the business-grade T2 series and the ultra-elegant T4 series, greatly expand the certified device options available to SkySwitch Resellers.

“The cooperation with Yealink addresses the overwhelming demand from our Resellers,” According to Jayson Jones, VP of Business Development for SkySwitch, “Yealink has grown to be a top choice for ITSPs looking to deploy a SIP Phone with premium business features at an excellent value.  Today’s announcement means that SkySwitch Resellers can deploy Yealink phones with the knowledge that all of our platform features are fully supported.”

“We are very pleased to see the successful SkySwitch certification,” said Stone Lu, Yealink Vice President. “SkySwitch offers a proven, solid platform, and extending our endpoints to SkySwitch resellers’ users demonstrates our shared goal to consistently support our customers with the best possible solutions and services,” he added. “We look forward to deepen cooperation with SkySwitch.”

In addition, the companies announced plans for a demo program whereby SkySwitch resellers who have yet to deploy Yealink phones can obtain evaluation units at a discount.

Yealink’s business-grade T2 series are compact, robust and economical phones, while the ultra-elegant T4 series represents the cutting edge of VoIP technology. Together, they offer ten model choices for businesses of any size, budget and technology needs. Customer can choose from entry-level phones to Gigabit phones to touch-screen color phones. More details about Yealink IP phones, visit http://www.yealink.com/. For more information about the SkySwitch platform, please visit www.skyswitch.com.

 

About SkySwitch

SkySwitch (http://www.skyswitch.com) is a US-based, next-generation communications platform provider. SkySwitch delivers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Back office support to our Resellers. This enables our Resellers – communication, telecom, IT service providers – to offer a branded, cloud-based, unified communications and collaboration service (UCCaaS) to their subscribers without the requirement to invest in or manage the platform from which the service is offered. The SkySwitch platform includes not only the infrastructure to deliver feature rich voice, video, text and fax communications, but also, all operational and business support systems necessary for a reseller to experience rapid growth and profitability. This includes billing, carrier services, DID porting services, and regulatory compliance.

 

About Yealink

Yealink, the global leading unified communication (UC) terminal solution provider, helps businesses of all sizes make the most of their UC experience and embrace the power of “Easy Collaboration.” Yealink One-stop UC Terminal Solutions unify voice, video and data, and satisfy diverse customer needs and usage scenarios. The company’s comprehensive product portfolio includes video conferencing systems, conference phones, desk IP phones, wireless DECT phones and accessories. Customers from more than 100 countries enjoy Yealink’s reliable UC terminal solutions through its global sales and service network. For more information, please visit: www.yealink.com.

Keep it Simple with SkySwitch and SimpleWan

It’s no secret that we are fans of SimpleWan. Experience has proven that customer sites with SimpleWan QoS routers installed result in dramatically fewer support calls. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that this is good for business.

So, to help encourage Resellers to deploy SimpleWan routers, we’re offering to foot the monthly monitoring fee, for up to a year, of any SimpleWan router purchased between September 19 and September 30, 2016.

Read More

Every SMB Needs Call Center Features

This blog series from Jon Arnold is great food for thought.  Every sales pitch for UC or hosted PBX to an SMB prospect should stress how the platform’s embedded  contact center features can improve not just productivity, but also customer satisfaction.

Most small business owners do not think they have use for a Call Center. But any business that takes calls from customers can benefit call center features. For example, simply tracking the amount of time that employees spend on the phone with customers instead of performing other duties can be provide illuminating insights about staffing and manpower needs. Call Center utilization reports make this far easier than it may sound. Similarly, offering callers the option to receive an automated callback (a feature named Call Parking with Ringback) during the hours when employees are busy doing other tasks (and therefore unavailable to speak on the phone) can greatly alleviate customer frustration.

As Jon puts it:  the way you think about technologies is more important than the technologies themselves. If you only think of VoIP as cheaper telephony, that’s all it’s going to be. If you think the contact center belongs separate from everything else, you’ll make buying decisions accordingly. There is no shortage of options with today’s technologies, but if your thought process has been static since analog times, then there’s no reason to change the status quo and do something like integrate UC with the contact center.

In case you were wondering, every SkySwitch seat has a rich CCaaS (Call Center as a Service) feature set that can help you close the deal.

Not all Multi Tenant Hosted PBX Providers are Created Equally

I could not resist the urge to post this graphic analogue to using Asterisk servers for multi-tenant hosted PBX.

multi-tenant-asterisk

SkySwitch Webinar: Simplifying Polycom Provisioning Using DHCP Option 160 and a SimpleWan Router

If you deploy Polycom phones and SimpleWan routers, then you should know how to use DHCP Option 160 to automate the provisioning  process. In this SkySwitch University Webinar, our Support Team Leader, Cameron Besaw, explains how to take advantage of this capability.

 

Panel Tells Why Most SMBs Still Not Using Cloud for Voice Services

According to William Haskins, Sr. Analyst and Partner, Unified Communications at Wainhouse Research, a recent panel of 300 U.S.-based IT decision makers (ITDMs) who support businesses from 20 to 500 employees revealed that more than half are still running telephony services in-house.  The primary reason for maintaining these systems in-house was concern over security.

Another notable finding uncovered by the panel is that virtually all ITDMs would use MPLS it it were a viable options.  This is not necessarily surprising, but worth keeping in mind as SD-WAN solutions (such as SimpleWan) continue evolving to provide both security and MPLS-like benefits at a fraction of the cost.

Other findings outlined by Haskins (the full post here) include:

1. Odds are, we’re not using the cloud yet – for telephony

What we found: over half of our survey respondents are still rolling their own, running telephony themselves, supporting users out of their own data centers (or closets, or garages, or basements). These findings are consistent across all respondents – from the very small business with 30 seats to the mid-sized gang with 500.

Why this is interesting: wait, whaaaat? I thought every small business was already in the cloud, certainly for voice services. We’ve been tracking the hosted voice market at a confident and consistent 25%+ growth rate year after year, and the IT teams we work with all seem to have at least some seats in the cloud.  Indeed, a third of all respondents note they have a hybrid voice deployment, pointing to ongoing migration. Still, 50%+ of businesses with telephony on-prem – especially in the small and medium side of the market – was higher than this analyst expected.

2. We’re getting what the cloud has always promised

What we found: we asked ITDMs who are currently using the cloud what benefits they are achieving. The top three responses = IT Productivity, Quality, and Faster Upgrades.

Why this is interesting: because this is what I’ve been talking about for the last 10 years!! It’s what the cloud is supposed to be delivering! Look – if the cloud is adding overhead to your IT team, you should likely be shopping for a new cloud provider, full stop. One of my favorite quotes in recent history came from a VP of IT who said “I want my team to excel at managing vendors – not applications.” The cloud had better free up your IT team from tactical day-to-day break / fix activities, allowing them to focus on strategic growth and transformation. As for quality and upgrades, these should also be considered ‘table stakes’ for a cloud service – if I can do it better / faster, why do I need a hosted solution? Thank you ITDMs for making us look like we’re paying attention!

3.…Except for one thing

What we found: the cloud’s not perfect, however. The biggest cloud gripe = we thought we’d save money – but we’re not!

Why this is interesting: oops! I thought this was going to be a key benefit.  I mean, I heard the provider has these magical “Eco Gnomes of Scale, right?” The reality: it is difficult-to-impossible to deliver a realistic cloud-based cost/benefit model that applies to every enterprise. This perspective is reinforced regularly during our cloud-provider briefings. From my chair, the biggest opportunities the cloud delivers were uncovered in finding Two above – expect increased productivity, quality, and more features. Combined, these can (and do) deliver material hard benefits that just don’t often make it into the typical CFO-approved business case – think company-wide productivity, increased employee engagement (and retention), happier customers, IT efficiencies, and increased EBITDA. Take advantage of these correctly, and you’ll come out on top. Compare your telecom invoices line by line, however, and you may be disappointed – likely because your cloud costs expose line items you may not associate directly with your telecom services (e.g. support, vendor management, power and equipment, etc.).

4. MPLS is damn sexy

What we found: almost all small to medium decision makers would use MPLS for their enterprise voice if they had it their way.

Why this is interesting: because a material percent of small to medium business’ hosted telephony is still reliant on the Public Internet. The PI debate wages on and on – a number of providers will tell you that the PI is all good now, that bandwidth is plentiful, and that voice applications now handle un-managed networks just fine. What I think: it’s mainly the PI-based service providers who believe this. And whether or not I believe MPLS is a better transport solution for corporate telephony services is absolutely irrelevant – it’s the ITDM who will be making a purchase decision and living with the results. Based on this survey, the vast majority associate quality, reliability, and security with a managed network.

5. So why are we still on prem?!?

What we found: the most popular cloud barrier (if barriers can be popular): security concerns.

Why this is interesting: current VoIP solutions promote application-layer security, pointing to Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP), and a host of other acronyms that should help the ITDM sleep at night. However, these same ITDMs are well aware that the cyber-criminal wants more than just your real-time-voice packets.  Data is the new bacon: directory information, meeting content, and customer lists are all very tasty and potentially profitable targets. In reality, security needs to be a core competency of every hosted provider – you should expect they run a tighter (and more secure) ship than you can in this regard.  It’s their business!

SkySwitch Control Tower Expands to New Location

cybercenterThe Philippine contingent of our growing Control Tower team moved into new digs this week.

The move is long overdue and will allow us to expand operations – continue meeting the technical support needs of our resellers, and to offer additional services that take advantage of the exceptional talent pool available in this region.

Our new office is located in the Negros First CyberCentre, a newly developed state-of-the-art technology hub in the city of Bacolod, which is in the Negros Island Region (about an hour by air from Manila).  Bacolod has been recognized as one of four Philippine centers of excellence for information technology and business process outsourcing, and was recently named one of the Top 100 outsourcing destinations by the research organization Tholons. Known as the “City of Smiles” because of the warmth and hospitality of its citizens, Bacolod has developed into one of the more exciting global offshoring destinations in recent years.

As it turns out, Bacolod also happens to be my father’s hometown and in an interesting twist (at least to me) the new office is located on Hernaez Street which was named after my Grand Uncle, Pedro Hernaez.

 

Page 1 of 612345...Last »