Alan Percy : The SIP Invite
Alan Percy
| Observations by Alan D. Percy on VoIP enabling technology, industry and our personal reach for success.

August 2010

You are browsing the archive for August 2010.

Skype Connect - Is there a new carrier in town?

August 31, 2010

I've been a Skype account holder for years and it sure has come in handy for communicating back to the office and home from my far-flung travels.  It was real useful communicating with my older son while he was studying abroad and our travels to Europe this last spring.  But other than client-to-client communications, I was having trouble envisioning how businesses would adopt Skype.
That all changes with today's announcement of Skype Connect.  With Skype Connect, businesses can now integrate Skype inbound and outbound calling into their existing infrastructure, avoiding the "wait, I have to switch headsets" issue of having both a phone and Skype client on every-one's desktop.  

Beyond PBXs, I can see contact centers benefiting from Skype Connect, allowing callers to "Skype" into the contact center, instead of tying up the mobile or landline telephone.

Think of this as the ultimate "Toll Free" calling to reach your business.

So how does this work?  Skype Connect is essentially a SIP portal into the Skype network, allowing Skype Client and PSTN access.    If you have one of the select IP-PBXs that are Skype-ready, the Skype service can be provisioned to connect directly to your IP-PBX.  However, if you are like most businesses that have either a TDM PBX or a non-Skype-ready IP-PBX, you'll need a media gateway or E-SBC to terminate the Skype session.  
  • TDM PBXs would use a media gateway with the TDM side facing the PBX - in most cases emulating the network side of a PRI circuit.  
  • For IP-PBXs, an E-SBC would be used in a Back-to-Back User Agent (B2BUA) mode that terminates the Skype session, performs security checks and then re-initiates the call into your IP-PBX in a format that it understands.
Fortunately, we here at AudioCodes have validated our Mediant gateways for use with Skype Connect and they make a great fit for the configurations mentioned above.

It should be noted that Skype Connect is not free - like any business product that has value, there are subscription fees associated with it. 

Here's an excellent case study that shows just one example of what businesses are doing with Skype Connect.

A New Perspective on the Contact Center

August 12, 2010

Yesterday I was fortunate to participate in one of the regional Contact Center Networking Group (CCNG) meetings here in Buffalo, NY.  The core theme of the event was a discussion on Avaya's roadmap and how it effects users of ex-Nortel systems.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by the host company, American Coradius International (ACI) and Elaine Alvord, Director of IT.  ACI is a third-party collection agency, working for the major banks and finance companies to "educate" their customers on the value of repaying their loans.  Tough business to be in, but someone has to do it.

Anyhow, Elaine described how a few years ago ACI was limping along on an old Nortel Option 11 and ran into a number of compliance issues that would have limited the kind of work they would be able to perform for the major banks.  The biggest issue was an inability to do 100% recording, but their business reporting and efficiency was falling behind "state-of-the-art".  Elaine then continued to describe their search for a new SIP-based communications system and the eventual selection of CIC by Interactive Intelligence for their two sites.  As part of this purchase, they also selected two AudioCodes media gateways for their TDM trunking and e911 connectivity.  (Now you know why I was interested in the event.)

After Elaine's presentation, we took a quick tour of their Hamburg, NY site and got to watch and hear their agents "work the phones".  Reaching the debtor was surprisingly difficult - you can't just keep calling their home telephone and "hope they answer".  It takes real detective work to find when and where you can reach them for a live discussion. 

Yesterday's tour and discussion with some of the other contact center managers at the event gave me a new perspective on priorities in their business.  Certainly employee motivation and policies to maintain compliance are fundamental, but the technology used to build a contact center has a huge impact on their efficiency.  Their adoption of a state-of-the-art contact center software suite and quality equipment as a foundation has dramatically improved their business productivity and ability to land new business with the major banks.

It was a well spent morning and a fresh perspective of our business.

Oh by the way - it was good to meet the gang at ACI, but I hope they never need to call me!  (at least not to collect a debt)

The Emergence of the Enterprise Session Border Controller

August 9, 2010

I'm seeing an ever-growing cross section of SME and Enterprise buyers listening and learning about SIP Trunking with the cost savings and flexibility piquing their interest.

However, many of the security, interoperability and survivability issues of SIP I have pointed out in previous posts have to-date stymied some of the growth and adoption of SIP Trunking.

As a result of these issues and the need to integrate SIP-based communications systems with a wide range of SIP Trunking service providers, a whole new category of customer premise equipment has recently evolved--the Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC). The E-SBC is designed to be located on the customer premise and sit between the Local Area Network and the external Wide Area Network.

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