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

IoT Connectivity Standards? Still a Confusing Mess.

62 million European households will soon have smart gas meters as reported on IoT Evolution with an annual growth rate of 27.8...

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Digital Transformation Gone Wrong: Did Macy's Fail?

Amazon will be moving into six floors at 300 Pine Street, a historic epicenter of Seattle retail, home to Macy’s. In fact,...

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Mazda Rotary Engine to Cease Electric-Range Anxiety

The rotary or Wankel engine is an automotive marvel. It revs higher than an engine with cylinders and weighs far less. It...

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Invoxia NVX 200 Phone Connects to Apple Watch 3

Forget Dick Tracey, Invoxia takes your watch phone one-step further by allowing you to use a desk phone as the interface to...

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Network Slicing - An A La Carte Network Service in 5G?

I’ve been meaning to write about network slicing for a while.  When 5G was first being written about, network slicing was one...

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Thanks to Actility, Comcast may Build Largest U.S. LoRa Network

There is a race to roll out the largest LoRa network as eventually trillions of devices will need a low-power way to...

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Plans for ITExpo East 2011

January 17, 2011


Our final plans are coming together for ITExpo East 2011 in the Miami Beach Convention Center February 2-4th and there is plenty of great content on the way.


A new addition for ITExpo this year is series of partner presentations we've named "AudioCodes Connect".  The event presents a series of application partners describing new and innovative communications solutions.  The event is an ideal opportunity for reseller partners and business customers to hear about some ready-to-implement innovative and cost-saving solutions.

Event Schedule for Friday, February 4th in Miami Beach Convention Center, Room: A106

  • 10:00 AM – 11:50 AM – Skype Connect – bringing the power of Skype to businesses
  • 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM – Microsoft Lync – a Unified Communications migration strategy
  • 1:00 PM – 1:50 AM – Sagemcom – 21st Century Enterprise Fax – Opportunities and Solutions

You'll get more than an education from these sessions. For each session from the above schedule that an attendee participates, they’ll receive a drawing ticket and chance to win the iPad! 







Education and UC - Is it time?

December 1, 2010

Image via Wikipedia

When thinking about the education market, it's easy to envision a lab full of graduate students, building "the next Google" in their labs - tirelessly coding and tweaking their invention for the masses.  Often these young fresh minds develop incredible new technologies (including much of our communications infrastructure we use every day).  However, the reality of communications infrastructure within education is often very different.  Most educational institutions are strapped for cash, being sensitive to spend the public or private funding very carefully.  

SIP-based 9-1-1 Systems for Small Government

November 22, 2010

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I just had the pleasure of wrapping up another great case study with Experient, who are developing the ever-important 9-1-1 emergency services application for small governments.

Sometimes we urban and suburban dwellers forget how much of the country lies between our urban centers and the services we become accustomed to having on a daily basis.  9-1-1 is an example of a service like water and cable television we just expect to have and it should be "always on".  Not true in rural and small-town America where it's more common than not to find households using well water and satellite TV.

The challenge for small government is finding an affordable 9-1-1 service platform that can be effective and affordable for the tight budgets found in rural areas. 

Experient solved this unique challenge with a new product offering based on SIP, allowing them to use commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) servers, media gateways and phones to create a 9-1-1 application without the cost of legacy proprietary boards. 





Skype Connect and Avaya Integration Case Study Video

October 22, 2010

Earlier this month I was happy to meet with Jeff Heibert, CEO of ROI Networks to LA for ITExpo for a discussion on a case study customer of theirs using Skype Connect in an Avaya environment using the AudioCodes Mediant 1000 E-SBC.  The E-SBC plays a key role to integrate the two systems and provide security to protect the Avaya SIP Enablement Server (SES) from attack via the public internet.  After some nudging, I got Jeff to sit with Erin to do a video interview of what we think is a fascinating case study.


Click on the thumbnail to view the video.

A key attribute of this case study is the end customer was able to leverage Skype Connect without expensive and disruptive upgrades to their Avaya Communications Manager.

A written copy of the case study is also available.










SIP Trunking Case Study: Triton Technologies

September 20, 2010

Earlier this summer, I was fortunate to meet Cameron Symonds, Director of IT/TS at Triton Technologies.  Cameron had just begun the process of converting his Interactive Intelligence contact center over to SIP Trunking and in need of some help with a security and interoperability solution for his site.

Triton runs a moderate-size contact center that processes orders for a wide range of TV, magazine and other media promotions.

He'd been dabbling with using a firewall to secure SIP trunks, but was having a real challenge with SIP sessions and their separate media and control streams and IP addresses.  The firewall just didn't have the smarts to open and close the UDP ports and separate IP addresses to secure his trunks. Unless he could secure both, SIP trunking was a no-go for his company.  

Fortunately, we were able to help him out with a pair of new AudioCodes Mediant 1000 Enterprise Session Border Controllers (E-SBC) - making SIP Trunking transparent to the Interactive Intelligent contact center and securing his network.

You can read the full case study at:
http://www.audiocodes.com/case-studies/triton-technologies










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.

SIP Trunking and Microsoft Communications Server (OCS)

July 8, 2010

Security, Survivability and Choice - words that are very near and dear to most IT managers, but what do they mean in Microsoft Communication Server deployments?   
  • Security - knowing that your business is protected from malicious attack by outsiders that might have an axe to grind or trying to steal sensitive information.  
  • Survivability - making sure you have a disaster recovery plan to keep the business operating when things do go wrong.
  • Choice - having the freedom to make changes to and select your service provider based on price, service, quality or new capabilities.
Until recently, if you were in the process of deploying Microsoft's Communications Server it was pretty difficult to use SIP Trunking and still maintain security, survivability and choice.   Securing SIP Trunks requires a Session Border Controller at the enterprise from one vendor, while survivability required separate media gateways and back-up PSTN telephone lines.  The number of certified SIP Trunking vendors that have gone through the arduous certification program is fairly small and as a result, severely limits the choices available to most businesses.



With today's announcement of UcSIPT from AudioCodes, businesses deploying Microsoft Communications Server can leverage an AudioCodes E-SBC - one single device that has the ability to:
  • Secure SIP Trunks - with an embedded Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC), protecting the business against common SIP-based network attacks coming from the Wide Area Network that traditional firewalls are unable to mitigate.
  • Provide Interoperability with SIP Trunks - via a back-to-back user agent with transcoding, virtually any SIP Trunking service provider can be used with Communications Server.
  • Deliver Survivability - with an optional integrated media gateway modules, traditional PSTN lines can be maintained and used as back-up circuits in cases where there is a failure in the SIP Trunk connectivity or service.
As an example of a typical deployment, Joe LeNoach, IT Manager in Alutiiq offers the following assessment of his experience in using the Mediant 1000 MSBG to interface his Office Communications Server system with a SIP Trunking service provider:  "We have recently decided to use the AudioCodes Mediant 1000 for connecting our network to the Verizon SIP Trunking service," said Joe. "We were looking for a solution to securely connect the Microsoft Office Communications Servers installed in our branches using a cost-effective SIP trunking service. AudioCodes Mediant 1000 provided the required mediation services to implement this solution quickly and cost-effectively."

Jeff Kahn. Chief Strategic Officer and Nimrod Borovsky, VP of Marketing at AudioCodes discuss the UcSIPT strategy and solution set in this video.

It looks like businesses are one step closer to having the choice of SIP Trunking service provider, security and survivability without cobbling together a number of different appliances from different manufactures.  

For more information on UcSIPT, visit: http://www.audiocodes.com/ocs



























Wireless Data Plans - will ending unlimited plans improve reliability?

June 9, 2010

After giving some thought about the recent announcements from AT&T and Verizon about their restructured pricing for 3G data plans, I wondered: "will ending the all-you-can-eat data plan pricing make things better or worse?"

As a heavy user of the data features of my Motorola Droid, I know I'm in the small group that uses the majority of the data bandwidth available on the Verizon network.  You'll frequently find me using the Google turn-by-turn directions, Pandora Radio and Weatherbug all at the same time while driving down the highway - surely pushing the limits of the cell towers along the way.  Trust me when I say that it's pretty easy to tell when a cell site is congested - everything slows down to a crawl.

During a conference a couple weeks ago, I spend some time with Michael Finneran, a Principal Consultant at dBrn Associates that specializes in wireless carriers and their networks, discussing the issues of wireless data congestion and the root causes.  I had always assumed it was a spectrum issue, meaning that all the radio channels (the last-mile) were saturated on your nearby cell site, causing the data throughput limitations.  Michael noted that while this may be the case sometimes, the carriers frequently find that their network that passes data between the cell sites and their hop-off-point (the middle-mile) was the real problem.  Unfortunately, the middle-mile improvements require new facilities to the troubled cell sites, many times over expensive microwave links or difficult long-distance cable pulls.

But how will the carriers pay for these improvements?  It looks like the carrier's plans are to get more subscribers to pay for data plans, creating revenue to pay for the infrastructure improvements.  But wait - won't more subscribers create more congestion?  In the sort term - yes.

So it seems that for the near-term, the congestion is only going to get worse before it gets better.

What's the solution? 4G and LTE  (more on this later)









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