Inbound calls to Canadian DIDs Failing

9:45 ET: The problem has been resolved by the underlying carrier.

9:00 ET: We have been made aware that inbound calls to certain Canadian DIDs are not completing. We have escalated this issue to the underlying carrier and will provide more information as soon as it is available.

System restart in DAL geo node for 95 seconds from 2017-02-13 11:28:03 – 2017-02-13 ET

We experienced a system restart in DAL geo node for 95 seconds from 2017-02-13 11:28:03 – 2017-02-13 11:29:29 ET. Any active calls at the start of this period were dropped. The NY Node was not affected, and devices with failover enabled should have re-registered immediately.

SkySwitch Announces Vectors 2017 Keynote Speaker Anand Buch, Co-Founder and CEO of NetSapiens

It is our honor to welcome Anand Buch, the visionary co-founder and CEO of NetSapiens, as the keynote speaker at the Vectors Reception.  Join us on Sunday, Feb 26th, at 6:30p.m. to hear Anand share  his outlook for the UCaaS industry and the unique place that NetSapiens holds in that space.  This is a rare opportunity to interact with the driving force behind NetSapiens, the platform that powers SkySwitch today and into the future.

If you have not yet registered for Vectors 2017, there’s till time.   Click here for event information.

Bringing Amazon Echo to Work

All the recent talk about the Amazon Echo got me wanting to put Amazon’s personal agent to work for the company PBX. Being able to control PBX features using voice commands is a nifty trick, and one that is easily accomplished by creating a Alexa Skill that connects to the SkySwitch Voice API.

This video shows our first attempt at doing this. In the video, I am asking Alexa to call Frank, a contact in my PBX account. The skill looks up the contact information for Frank, and then places the call for me by ringing my extension first and connecting to Frank after I answer.

Alexa skills can be used to voice enable almost any hosted PBX feature, such as forwarding calls, checking on the status of an extension, or adding participants to a conference call. We plan to expand on this concept and make voice commands an integrated part of our white-label UCaaS solution for SkySwitch Resellers.

 

 

100 Million Seats Up for Grabs

The January 19 announcement from Avaya that it will be seeking Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection creates an opportunity for hosted UCaaS resellers and service providers.

The company, which is being pulled under by $6B of debt and $1.7B of unfunded pension liabilities, currently supports about 100 million endpoints. Without a doubt, many current Avaya customers are now evaluating their options. Many who felt settled with an on-premise PBX may be reconsidering that position. Others that had decided to put off migrating to the cloud may well be ready to make the move sooner, rather than face the uncertainty that the coming months are sure to bring.

It’s still unclear whether Avaya will be able to emerge from bankruptcy with a customer base intact. When Nortel filed for bankruptcy in February 2009, the resulting uncertainty caused enterprise revenue to drop by 50%. Back then many Nortel customers migrated to Avaya. This time around, I predict that many of those customers will be migrating to the cloud.

Office Space Trends Point to Less Hotdesking

In recent years, open floor plans have all but taken over corporate workspaces.   Driven by a millennial workforce that values fun and collaboration over privacy, a majority of offices in the United States have adopted this mode of working.  According to Forbes, this design promotes transparency and fairness: Fewer walls and doors make management seem more approachable and encourage information to flow freely.

Due to this trend, one of the most asked-about features in the business phone system market has been hotdesking, an extreme version of open floor plan working where people sit wherever they want in the work place, moving their equipment around with them.   In the PBX context, this means that a worker can sit down at any desk and have all calls and calling features available at whatever handset happens to be at the desk, simply by logging-in.

According to the BBC, however, hotdesking may become less important as the Millennial generation starts to age and the pendulum begins to swing in the direction of privacy.  A recent story published by BBC Online reports a backlash against open floor plans.  According to the article workers are 15% less productive, have immense trouble concentrating and are twice as likely to get sick in open working spaces.  Support for this assertion is building.  A recent study found that nearly 40% of employees in an open office wish they had more privacy. Another study concluded workers in an open office are less focused and experience higher levels of stress.  The BBC story goes on to detail the many other downsides of an open work space.

While the SkySwitch Web Centrex platform supports hotdesking (sometimes called hoteling) among hundreds of other hosted PBX features, the important lesson to take away from this article is that working trends change.  Especially in the UCaaS world, it’s important to have a system that’s sufficiently flexible to change with the times.

 

In 2016 Mobile VoIP Clients Still Lacked UC Integration

Here is an interesting article from Tech Target that discusses the current state of UC integration with mobile clients.

As I previously opined, things improved in 2016 when Apple introduced a CallKit API in iOS10. Unfortunately, more needs to be done before mobile apps can truly replace the desk phone.

Nearly all unified communications vendors offer an iOS mobile application for iPhone and iPad. But Nemertes Research has found that use of such UC mobile apps is low. Why? Largely because UC mobile apps lack integration with Apple’s native apps and operating system, creating a poor user experience.

For example, users could not answer a UC call without unlocking the phone, they cannot make a UC call from Apple’s contacts app and UC calls drop when a cellular call arrives.

Given this poor experience, most people have relied on their native dialer and contacts apps, which means calls aren’t routed through the enterprise UC platform, aren’t logged in call data records and can’t be associated with enterprise customer relationship management applications.

But, earlier this year, Apple made its CallKit APIs available within iOS 10. As a result, IT leaders could potentially improve UC mobile apps on iOS devices.

UC vendors step up Apple integration
CallKit allows iPhone and iPad users to place UC calls via Siri or via a call button in their contacts app, as well as answer incoming UC calls without unlocking the phone and see UC call history in their recent-calls list. If users are on a UC call and a cellular call arrives, they can switch between calls or decide not to answer the cellular call. Users can also designate UC contacts as favorites to enable quick dial.

CallKit doesn’t solve all the challenges of UC mobile apps.
Cisco was the first UC provider to offer CallKit integration. Its Spark app, demonstrated at its Cisco Live customer event in July, added Spark calling information to iPhone contacts and enabled iPhone users to place calls via Spark using Siri, or by tapping on Spark numbers within contacts. Cisco does not yet provide CallKit support for its Jabber UC client.

Following in Cisco’s footsteps, Microsoft announced CallKit support for its Skype for Business iOS app at its September customer conference. Vonage, too, announced CallKit support for its UC-as-a-service offering. Other UC vendors will probably follow suit by delivering CallKit support in the next several months.

But CallKit doesn’t solve all the challenges of UC mobile apps.

Still lacking full UC integration
Users still can’t route certain calls through their enterprise UC platform, such as calls made via the native dialer or calls to numbers not in the corporate directory. To do that, companies would need to invest in something like Tango Networks’ Kinetic Communications Platform or Verizon’s recently announced One Talk, an integrated cellular and wireline service.

CallKit also doesn’t support integration with Apple’s native messaging app, which means accessing corporate instant messaging still requires launching a dedicated app.

Still, with more than 50% of companies either deploying or planning to deploy UC mobile apps by 2017, Apple’s CallKit is a step toward providing a better user experience for iPhone owners, even if it doesn’t yet offer full UC integration.

Metaswitch or Boat Anchor?

A post on the Voice Ops mailing list provides a stark reminder that technology risk is real.

voice-ops-boat-anchor

This is just one of the many reasons why the White Label business model is so powerful. If you are thinking about providing hosted voice services, sidestep the very real risk of betting on the wrong technology horse. Consider a white label provider with a proven track record of managing technology.

What to Make of BSFT’s Acquisition of VoIP Logic

Broadsoft (BSFT), the leading maker of UCaaS software, announced today that it was acquiring VoIP Logic, a white-label service that runs atop the BroadWorks platform.

Here’s what the BSFT press release said about the deal:

“We see that a large percent of data consumed by today’s business is through cloud services, which is why BroadSoft has become the go-to cloud transformation partner for service providers seeking to rapidly shift their legacy telecom infrastructure to a network capable of delivering enterprise cloud applications for mobile unified communication, team collaboration and customer engagement,” said Taher Behbehani, chief digital and marketing officer, BroadSoft. “VoIP Logic further strengthens our BroadCloud UCaaS solution portfolio, and the ability for our service provider customers to fully benefit from the cloud.”

Sounds good as far as it goes…  But I found myself wondering why BSFT, with  revenue of $284 Million and telco behemoths such as Verizon as customers, would bother with a relatively small white-label provider  like VoIP Logic.   BSFT states that the acquisition would add $0.8 Million to 2016 top line sales.  Extrapolating from that suggests that VoIP Logic has annual revenue of less than $4 Million. Why is that interesting to BSFT?

My answer to that question will not surprise anyone that has tried to buy any type of customizable anything from a large telco – they just can’t sell it.   Large telcos have been genetically engineered to be good at selling standardized, cookie-cutter services like dial-tone.  Hosted PBX and UCaaS are anything but cookie cutter.

And, although it touted Verizon’s recently launched One Talk service as a win in the cloud space during the last earnings call, I suspect that  BSFT foresees headwinds if it relies solely on its large telco customer base to grow the UCaaS market (for the record, I predict that One Talk will go the way of the Verizon Hub in the not-too-distant future).   In the U.S. today, there are close to 30 million small business, and upwards of 90% of these businesses have employees that work away from the office.  Outfitting these organizations with UCaaS is not a job that anyone should give to Verizon or any other large telco.

And that’s where VoIP Logic comes into the picture.  As a white-label platform provider, VoIP Logic enables organizations  that are already selling complex IT solutions to small businesses to easily add UCaaS to the mix.   If I were BSFT CEO Michael Tessler, I would start rolling up all the BroadWorks white-label platform providers and let them do what they do best.

Using SD-WAN to Optimize VoIP with Bigleaf Networks

dynamic qosWe are pleased to include Bigleaf Networks as a SkySwitch Ecosystem partner and to be included as a member of Bigleaf’s Cloud Assurance Program.

Bigleaf’s solution is ideal for use at customer sites with two or more Internet connections.  Bigleaf provides real-time failover and load-balancing with seamless mid-session re-routing based on ISP circuit quality.

Although the public Internet is always getting better, it is still not possible to say that it can consistently provide business class QoS for VoIP and UCaaS deployments .  SD WAN technology, while still in it’s infancy, is becoming the accepted way to make over-the-top (OTT) VoIP work and provide reliable QoS to smaller, outlying locations, that normally wouldn’t warrant direct MPLS connectivity.

Our experience with the Bigleaf solution so far has been exceptional, and we look forward to helping SkySwitch resellers continue to succeed with yet another proven tool.

 

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