This evening’s keynote sessions were started with Rich Tehrani’s traditional opening remarks. Only this time Rich provided the audience with a slight twist. Working off a news item this morning that told of a plan to enable pigeons to act as smog sensors by outfitting them with some sort of technology, Rich wondered aloud if it was possible for the developers in the room to come up with a way to use pigeons, perhaps VoIP enabling the birds to act as some sort of mesh network.
It was of course meant as a joke, but I have to wonder if some of the enterprising minds in attendance won’t come up with a solution by Thursday!
Kicking off the program at this year’s VoIP Developer Conference was Ron Romanchik, vice president of Sales North America for AudioCodes’ blades business line.
In a presentation entitled “Application Development tools” Ron addressed the standing room only crowd by speaking about change. “Change is inevitable,” he said. “I started in this industry with an engineering background, creating testing tools, then moved on to a role in product management, then sales.
“Leopards can change their spots,” Ron continued.
Changes in technology are also akin to changes in a leopard’s spots. Phone systems used to be huge behemoths, electromechanical monsters hidden away in a basement somewhere or locked behind a closet door. Phones were like giant paperweights sitting on the desk with but two features: Hold and Dial Tone
Today’s phone systems have evolved. They’re much smaller, much more distributed, and have many, many more features.
Romanchik then asked rhetorically, “What defines a developer?”
The answer: “Not necessarily transport… since there’s not much profit there. Transport, is a commodity,” he said. “Applications — that’s where the value lies.”
When a developer creates a successful application he creates differentiation, perceived value, customer stickiness, and offers a proven ROI.
Some examples of successful applications include voice mail, conferencing services, speech enabled IVR, and even the popular service Onstar. That is to say: Real applications that we use every day.
Change extends out to the development environment as well. Romanchik spoke of the differences between legacy PCI architecture, made up of proprietary device drivers and APIs and today’s evolving development environment. It was a good way to start the industry, but it was difficult to learn, hard to develop, depended on a specific OS, and of course, elicited too much finger pointing between vendors.
Instead he urged developers to look to a new development environment featuring onboard protocols. The development community needs to take a totally different approach — leveraging VoIP as plumbing, replacing all the PCI drivers and APIs with a common protocol stack, and extending the PCI bus out over an Ethernet LAN, in effect making the entire development environment accessible on the network.
And of course take advantage of open standards. Today’s standards can server to simplify integration by virtue of being well understood, excellent diagnostic tools which are to a great degree future proof.
These new tools can speed development time. In the past it would take up to three man-years to integrate and test in a legacy environment. In the new development environment it takes 88% less time to get applications to market using, for example, SIP-based hardware.
All of this frees development resources, which in turn frees developers to focus on building value into their applications instead of wasting time on interfaces and such.
Romanchik summarized his thoughts by reiterating his call for developers to embrace a new way of looking at the development environment.
“I believe a leopard can change its spots,” he stated. “The question is, are you ready to change your spots and accept a new approach to development?”