During a recent trip to Dialogic Corporation, a
leading manufacturer of CTI and Internet telephony board products and enabling technology,
I had the pleasure to meet a number of key company movers and shakers, including James
Machi, the Director of Marketing for the IP Telephony Division, Greg Baltzer, VP of the
Telco Network Services Division, and Carl Strathmeyer, Dialogics Director of
Marketing for the companys CT Connect, or Computer-Telephone Division.
During the meeting, we were brought up to date on the companys DM3 IPLink IP
telephony platform product, CT Media, and CT Connect product plans and strategies. The day
was chock full of interesting information (including the small matter of
Intels purchase of Dialogic, which made the wire while I was en-route to the
But perhaps the most eye-opening (and to a CTI application developer, exhilarating) bit
of news came to light during Carl Strathmeyers fascinating demonstration of a new
thin gatekeeper component of CT Connect.
First, A Brief History
For those of you who are unfamiliar with CT Connect, it is a
middleware product that supplies the communication path between a telephone
switch and CTI applications. CT Connect, which is based on the CIT (computer-integrated
telephony) technology acquired from Digital Equipment Corporation, was released in August
1995. It is designed for use by application developers, VARs, and OEMs to construct
end-user CTI solutions.
The new CT Connect version 3.0 is capable of connecting a wide range of telephone
switches to a variety of data processing environments. The CT Connect client/server
software technology supports industry-standard hardware, operating systems, network
services, and call control programming interfaces such as TAPI, TSAPI, ActiveX, and DDE.
CT Connect consists of server software that runs under either Microsoft Windows NT or Sun
Solaris operating system environments and supports comprehensive call control and
monitoring through links to many popular telephone switches.
The server software implements the necessary communication protocols to work with each
switchs computer telephone integration (CTI) link, maps the differing protocols and
messages to a common CSTA-based call and information model, and manages the flow of
telephony service requests and status messages between the server and multiple concurrent
application systems. CT Connect provides OEMs, application developers, and integrators
with the ability to implement complete telephony routing and monitoring functions inside
On To The Gatekeeper
In a nutshell, this new gatekeeper component essentially a bare
bones gatekeeper without policy logic and QoS functions coordinates CSTA
messages generated by CT-Connect to analogous H.323 control codes, in effect serving as a
turnkey, standard interface between Internet telephony and CTI applications.
According to Carl, current industry thinking is that gatekeeper-resident logic should
implement the various desired call-flow policies. He believes this approach will
inevitably lead to expensive, complex, and inflexible gatekeeper feature implementations,
since gatekeeper environments are not easy ones for CTI developers to work in.
Dialogics approach is instead to provide a CTI linkage out of a fixed,
basic-function gatekeeper module, so that external CTI-style applications can implement
the policy logic. Since this arrangement can handle multiple external CTI applications,
and since those applications can be implemented on any convenient system platform, the
company believes this approach will result in lower costs and more flexibility for IP
telephony call processing.
The companys new gatekeeper module helps extend the capabilities of CT Connect by
allowing CTI applications to monitor and control Internet telephony calls in the same way
they currently do in traditional telephone environments and, in essence, enabling
third-party call control for Internet telephony. Dialogics view is that third-party
CTI capabilities are vitally important to commercial, enterprise use of H.323 telephony,
just as CTI concepts are now essential to the operation of any traditional telephony call
center. I completely concur.
Look Ma No Code Changes
This new CT Connect component is almost the holy IP grail for the
ever-growing army of CTI application developers trying to sell their products into a
marketplace that is rapidly adopting IP-centric technology. By employing this thin
gatekeeper in conjunction with CT Connect, CTI applications will be able to operate
within IP telephony environments as easily as in a circuit-switched telephony environment.
The transparency it creates between IP telephony and traditional phone switches means that
CTI developers will be able to market their applications for use in IP telephony
environments with little or no change to existing code. This has got to make a
developers face break out into a broad smile.
For the end user of an Internet telephony-enabled CTI app, there are also tantalizing
possibilities customers will be able to use IP telephony in conjunction with
contact management, customer service, and support applications, deriving all sorts of cost
savings as a result.
Dialogic has filed for a patent for their thin gatekeeper, and expects to offer it as a
CT-Connect component by the end of the year. The company is also interested in working
with providers of gatekeeper products and operators of public IP telephony networks to
help incorporate this important CTI interconnection technology into their offerings. If
youre one of these folks, contact Carl Strathmeyer at 978-275-4802 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Marc Robins is Associate Group Publisher for INTERNET TELEPHONY AND CTI
magazines. His column, Mind Share, appears monthly in the pages of INTERNET TELEPHONY
magazine. Marc looks forward to your feedback.