At ITEXPO Iotum announced their Calliflower hosted conferencing and collaboration platform added support for Skype calling. Calliflower, a web-based conferencing and collaboration platform can now be reached from any Skype-enabled PC or phone as well as from traditional PSTN phones. I spoke with Alec Saunders, CEO of Iotum in the ITEXPO press room and asked him how he was connecting to the Skype cloud. He told me they were leveraging Skype for SIP. One of the challenges he told me is that Skype for SIP required SIP endpoints to register, which wouldn't work well for Calliflower. However, as I wrote in my December 9th article, "Cool Skype for SIP Upgrades, Enhanced Inbound Routing and more", Skype added IP authentication. Specifically I wrote:
Well, that's exactly the piece of the puzzle that Calliflower needed to leverage the Skype for SIP "cloud" to reach Skype usernames, including a Calliflower Skype username(CalliflowerSkype), which bridges the Skype network with the Calliflower switching platform. Alec told me he was in close discussions with Skype to get them to support IP authentication. According to Iotum, "Previously, participants could only dial into Calliflower conferences through PSTN access numbers, potentially incurring local charges. In regions or countries where no such access numbers are available, customers would incur long-distance and even international charges, or use up Skype-out minutes calling access numbers overseas. Now callers can access Calliflower through a Skype ID - CalliflowerSkype - or via a web button in the Calliflower UI, overcoming this disadvantage."The upgrade will also add IP authentication, which is critical to businesses that do not support registrations. According to Skype, "For SIP enabled PBX's and SIP gateways that do not support registrations, you can now change your authentication settings in your SIP profile to a fixed IP address/port. Based on your IP address we will work out the best settings for your SIP enabled PBX when using Skype for SIP."
As I mentioned to Alec, I wouldn't be surprised to see other 3rd parties leverage the IP authentication method to be able to call Skype usernames via a SIP-based IP-PBX. The possibilities this opens is only beginning to be realized with Calliflower's announcement - keep your eye out for others doing this.
"We've had many requests from potential Calliflower customers who had no local access numbers, especially from parts of Africa, India, China and the Middle East," said Alec Saunders, iotum CEO. "Now, as long as they have Skype, that doesn't matter anymore."
In addition, users gain from the better audio quality they will enjoy through direct Skype access, as well as from all the visual information, documents and presentations that are shared through Calliflower's interactive dashboard. These tools go a long way toward improving understanding on international conference calls.
Available on PC, Mac and iPhone, Calliflower makes organizing and participating in multi-party calls simple and engaging. It allows participants to see the status of other callers and raise hands to request the floor, while also providing interactive chat, document sharing, intuitive conference controls, call recording, invitations and reminders, integration with calendars, and more.
The conference service is available on an unlimited basis for $50 per month for two organizers. Additional organizers cost $25 per month each.