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Myths and legends - cloud myths #1

February 28, 2012 9:05 AM | 0 Comments

zeusMyths and legends make great stories. They can make great movies – if the director is up to it. In more mundane circumstances, they’re often similarly used as a metaphor. In terms of cloud computing, some myths are considered as incontrovertible as the Instructions of Shuruppak, by which is meant – it is tantamount to a fact that this is a myth.

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evolution.jpg
From hardware based....to software based....to cloud

Early pioneers in the market initially known as computer telephony took a look at the typical office workstation and decided that efficiencies could be achieved by integrating the two pieces of electronics typically found on workers desks – the telephone and the personal computer. They started with a computer platform, and added a hardware board to it so that the integrated computer system could make and receive phone calls. 
 
The next step was to scale the system so that it was capable of handling tens, hundreds or even thousands of channels and could be centralised and integrated with the office PBX.  To achieve this, it was necessary to have telephony boards with dedicated DSPs to perform the telephony call processing, thus leaving the main processor on the server/PBX free to handle the application.
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Traditional_vs_cloud_based_deployments.pngOk, you’re sold on the benefits of cloud computing. You understand it means you can take advantage of computing resources that are owned and managed by someone else.  That’s great!  But you want to know what that means in relation to telecommunications, if you need any additional hardware or software, who takes care of the PSTN connection, how you can access the telephony resources in the cloud, how does it compare to the traditional deployment options. Continue Reading...
Here's our version of the "Twelve days of Christmas" song.

Seasons greetings from the team at Aculab.

Lyrics by Ian Colville, Aculab Product Manager.

Media processing resources - boxed!

November 16, 2011 11:57 AM | 0 Comments
“You pays your money and you takes your choice
You can double your money or open the box.”

Most of us like to keep things neat and tidy; everything in its place and a place for everything as the saying goes. Even those who give the impression of being chaotic have some kind of system – it may be known only to them, but they know where to find things when they need them. Perhaps that explains the apparent contradiction in the law of growing entropy – the fact that there is a ‘law’ governing the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system.Prosody X - boxed
In terms of provisioning a hardware-based telephony system, there are a number of areas of uncertainty. Those can range from the relatively mundane, albeit costly, errors that occur when you inadvertently damage a board whilst trying to locate it in a server, to the frustratingly frequent component obsolescence that is seemingly built-in to PC motherboards.
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If you are intrigued by Cloud Telephony, you might be asking yourself a number of questions. Those questions are likely to include: “What is meant by a Telephony Platform as a Service (PaaS)?” “Is it for me?” “When and why would I use a Telephony PaaS?” “What are the Telephony PaaS options?” Read on for some answers…

In summary, a PaaS could be a server system or it could be a computer language interpreter that enables bespoke applications to be written and deployed.  The main benefit being that you can access ‘tools’ to help write and deploy an application, based on technology owned and managed by someone else.

PaaS is different from Software as a Service (SaaS) in that there is no pre-written, configurable application. Continue Reading...
This is part two of a set of articles describing the benefits of Aculab’s range of IP-centric Prosody X media processing boards for developers of large scale communications platforms.
In part one, it was stated that there are many advantages in having IP at the core of the Prosody X media processing board, not least of which is the high channel counts made possible by such an architecture. But that is just one aspect…

Choosing IP connectivity enables a distributed architecture

In putting IP technology at the heart of the Prosody X design it is much simpler, due to the ubiquity of Ethernet in IT networks, to build multi-board, multi-chassis and multi-location systems using Prosody X. So if the high channel counts of a single Prosody X board are not enough, then it is easy to build multi-board systems.

The traditional way

Before VoIP entered the telephony world, we depended on TDM technology and an array of disparate CAS and CCS type PSTN protocols, and most of the voice-based solutions had a common architecture, simply described as a host server with telephony boards.

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Dealing with RTP loss

September 14, 2011 10:11 AM | 0 Comments
In my last post, you read about SIP call recovery from RTP loss. This post continues the theme, providing some more useful information – detecting and dealing with RTP loss between two SIP end points.

If you recall the scenario, there is a gateway installed between an SS7 carrier network and an emergency services IP network – an ESInet – over which emergency calls are routed to public safety answering points (PSAPs). Calls entering the ESInet via the gateway are SIP/RTP/UDP and, as the NENA i3 specification quite rightly states, in no circumstances should an in-progress emergency call be taken down automatically, just because RTP streams fail.

Whatever effort you put into making the call handling equipment redundant and resilient, it is always best to assume that bad things can still happen. To misappropriate the principle of simplicity from Ockham’s razor, follow the rule of thumb that advises, “Make as few assumptions as possible.” In fact, make one assumption only – expect the worst (i.e., ‘the proverbial’ happens).

So, we can expect situations to arise in which RTP media between the gateway and the ESInet fails.

PSAP equipment must be able to distinguish between RTP failure and real silence by a caller. Continue Reading...
Vanilla cupcake topped with strawberry ganache www.thesweetkitchen.co.ukOur clever engineers have done it again – you’ve now got an even higher density, media processing board with which to play. The new PCIe board joins the Prosody X family of DSP-based boards that are used extensively in multimodal communications systems.

We could have just taken the existing 4-trunk Prosody X PCIe board and added further trunks and DSPs. Instead we took note of customer feedback and went the extra mile to further improve the original design. 

The result is a board with vastly increased channel capacities, giving our developer customers the components needed to readily craft large scale systems at a very cost-effective price-per-channel. Whilst many DSP boards top out at 240 channels, the new 8-port Prosody X PCIe board can support up to 720 channels.
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Who owns the cloud?

September 8, 2011 10:16 AM | 0 Comments
If the thought of storing critical, personal or sensitive information in a place that to all intents and purposes is completely out of your control makes you feel a tad uneasy – you’re not alone.  Using the cloud, particularly in relation to data, is a bone of contention, but there are options for you to choose from, each with its own merits.
A previous blog post introduced the idea that services (IaaS, PaaS and CaaS) can be deployed in three different types of cloud - private, public or hybrid (there are more variations out there, but those are the key ones for you to consider at this early stage).  Which is the best option for you, really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.  It may be useful to think about your top priorities, for example, ‘risk aversion’ or ‘cost reduction’?
It’s virtually your choice
What’s the key factor that sets cloud categories apart?
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SIP call recovery in gateways

September 2, 2011 11:08 AM | 0 Comments
Life is full of truisms; those self-evident truths in statements like not being able to recover your lost youth (despite what plastic surgeons say – or any number of elderly film stars have wished). It’s not as evident that you can’t recover SIP (session initiation protocol) calls when they appear to fail. What happens when you lose an already established SIP call between a gateway and an end point on a VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) network? Can it be recovered?
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Why shouldn't you move to the cloud?

September 1, 2011 6:31 AM | 0 Comments

This question, albeit it’s more of a statement seeking endorsement, was recently raised on LinkedIn and it generated a variety of responses relating to security, ease of use, and flexibility, to name but a few. I couldn’t resist the temptation to respond and counter some of those ‘issues’.

Security – any computer connected to the Internet is at risk from hackers, whether it is in the cloud or in a private data centre. Would it be true to say that an SME, with necessarily limited resources, is able to better secure its data than say, Amazon?

In addition, who says everything needs to be in the cloud? Adopting a cloud computing strategy isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ decision.

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Microsoft and Skype

August 31, 2011 11:48 AM | 0 Comments
On the 10th of May it was announced that Microsoft had agreed a deal to acquire Skype for US$8.5 billion. Since then there has been much industry chatter about ‘why’ and ‘what’ this means for the industry. For me the only question mark is over how much they paid.
Microsoft has been moving into telephony for a number of years now. It was a natural progression for its business offering to include telephony, voice and video, in the evolution of work-based collaboration and in fact voice and video have been available as part of MSN Messenger for many years.
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Oresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden. On the ...

Oresund Bridge, image via Wikipedia


























This weeks announcement[1] by Orange that it plans to roll out mobile HD Voice to several more countries throughout Europe, and from UK operator Three that they will roll out HD Voice capability to ‘most’ phones by the autumn is good news for the spread of HD Voice, but Orange are missing a trick.

Read down to the bottom of the Orange press release and you come to the part about hooking up its HD Voice capable mobile networks with its own broadband fixed network service that currently has approximately 800,000 subscribers. Orange is not planning to enable a customer who might have its wideband service on their home network to talk to someone (possibly a member of the same family) in HD Voice quality on a mobile phone until 2012 or 2013!

If HD Voice is to succeed in a big way, then you have to create a system that allows you (with a HD Voice capable device) to call another person (with an equally capable device) and not have to rely on that person being on the same network as you to guarantee the ability for the call to be setup with the best quality.
If disparate islands of HD Voice capability are developed in isolation, then the technology will never achieve its potential to revolutionise the voice communications landscape. What is needed is a concerted effort, from Orange and others, to create the bridges between these islands. Continue Reading...
In the realm of digital communications, you could say that gateways are a necessary evil.

[By the way; that’s a gateway as distinct from a router, Proxy server, or some form of gatekeeper or firewall function at an entry/exit point to the network.]

Sure, gateways aren’t wicked or malevolent – like vampires. Come to think of it, though, if it wasn’t for vampires, neither Peter Cushing nor Christopher Lee, not to mention Buffy (who polished off many a vampire), would’ve had much of a career. You’d probably think they’d be inclined to say, “Evil is good!”

So gateways are a necessary evil, which means they’re a good thing. Continue Reading...
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