SOA/Web Services

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January 09, 2008

Focus On Mobility and Distributed Workforces Driving IP Communications

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief


BlueNote Networks designed the SessionSuite family of Business Communications Platforms to enable businesses to take advantage of communications-enabled, SIP-based business applications, enabling new levels of business agility.
 
Mark Ericson director of SOA product strategy and Greg Pisano, Director of Market Development at BlueNote Networks (BN) took the time to respond to my questions about the state of the industry, the company, and what attendees can expect to learn during their conference sessions at the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Miami Beach.
 
RT: What trends are you noticing in the communications market?
BN: There’s greater focus on mobility and distributed workforces, along with the ability to quickly integrate interactive communications with business applications. The market is moving towards a model of breaking down technology silos such as standalone PBXs and IP PBXs to leverage software-based IP telephony as a reusable Web service. One of the benefits is that communications-enabled business applications can strengthen and complete an enterprise’s overall business process. This enables organizations to quickly identify and better respond to time-sensitive business transactions, and allows users to collaborate more effectively with fellow employees, partners and customers. Customers are also looking for solutions that provide an enhanced user experience with capabilities that can securely extend global communications reach anytime, anywhere, for greater organizational agility and responsiveness.
 
RT: Did 2007 finish the way your company expected?
BN: We had a number of significant highlights involving customer wins, new product releases, and new technology partnerships throughout the year. We also received a number of awards, including the “Best of Show” Award at TMC’s INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference and EXPO West 2007, and a Product of the Year Award from TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions magazine for our SessionSuite WebCaller product. Some of our announced new customer wins included the Seaport Hotel, Concordia University, and WorldWinner just to name a few. We also saw traction across several key verticals, including Financial Services, Healthcare and Government. In terms of product launches, in December we introduced two new Web Services for our SessionSuite family of Business Communications Platforms. Our SessionSuite Outbound Notification Solution Framework, facilitates creating multi-channel (voice, text, e-mail) notification applications through Web services, and our Session Interaction Plugin Framework is a multi-channel enabled alternative to VoiceXML (News - Alert) that allows the creation of interactive media applications, such as IVR (interactive voice response), using Web Service APIs.
 
RT: Is 2008 going to be a better year than 2007?
BN: The signs are very positive in terms of market traction. Today customers are more knowledgeable about the benefits of SOA/Web Services-enabled IP telephony than they were a year ago. There is a much better understanding of the business benefits associated with embedding voice services in business processes and applications. Enterprises are engaged in more detailed planning with a vision for how Web Services can be leveraged to improve or transform the way users and customers interact. There is more focus on communication integration in an SOA environment that supports voice as a reusable Web Service with strategies based on open standards to realize all the benefits of multiple communication channels, applications, networks, devices and clients.
 
RT: What technologies have altered the market the most?
BN: SIP and Web Services technologies have had a notable impact on the market. With SIP playing a pivotal role in service delivery for unified communications, Web services enable integration of communications into IT application architectures. Within this framework, using standard XML-based SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) interfaces allows enterprises to easily embed interactive communications into existing applications, yielding tremendous flexibility. So whether an organization adopts a few independent Web services projects, multiple reusable Web services or a formal SOA, by treating voice, video and other interactive communications as reusable Web services, they can derive similar benefits from communications as they do from other software services to create powerful communications-enabled business applications.
 
RT: How has Skype (News - Alert) changed the telecom market?
BN: Skype has certainly changed the way people think about person to person communications-centric models leveraging the Internet, versus traditional phone services. Although similar in some aspects, BlueNote’s SessionSuite is considerably more diverse. Like Skype, SessionSuite provides an application-centric, Internet-facing software solution for embedding interactive communications into everyday applications. However, in sharp contrast to Skype, SessionSuite leverages Web Service APIs for quick and easy integration of interactive communications into an enterprise’s business-oriented SOA framework. Additionally, with Skype, organizations have no control over what users are doing on the corporate network. BlueNote Networks, on the other hand, gives organizations a means to provide the economical and global reach benefits of a Skype-like voice service, but in a secure, controlled and managed environment. The SessionSuite platforms can manage users, user registrations, and calls that need to be encrypted from a security perspective while still allowing organizations to realize the benefits of IP telephony such as cost, reach, and flexibility.
 
RT: How will Apple, Google (News - Alert) and Microsoft each change the telecom space?
BN: Apple and Google will likely continue to focus on what they do best - providing consumer, community, and media-centric products and services, and disrupt traditional telecommunications business models. Microsoft’s launch of OCS 2007 actually validates BlueNote Network’s market strategy and helps to solidify the idea that voice is just another business application. Since our inception, BlueNote has delivered real-time communications as a software-based service in an enterprise IT or SOA environment. Our focus is providing Web Services APIs that abstract telephony complexities so developers can quickly and easily integrate voice into customer-written business applications. However, SessionSuite is also designed to interoperate with and add value to Microsoft solutions. We leverage Microsoft Active Directory for user authentication, we interoperate with Microsoft OCS, and we support integrated telephony from Microsoft Outlook, Explorer, Word and other desktop applications.
 
RT: Do you have predictions about the 700 MHz auction?
BN: Our business is not directly affected by the outcome, so we don’t have any predictions.
 
RT: What are the brightest spots in your business going forward?
BN: As previously mentioned, customers are more knowledgeable about the benefits of SOA/Web Services-enabled IP telephony. They are engaged in more detailed planning, pilots, and deployments. With BlueNote Networks’ SessionSuite, enterprises can rapidly deploy applications that blend communications with business processes through standard Web service protocols and scripting languages. SessionSuite can complement and extend the life of existing PBX systems, extend global communications reach, and be incrementally deployed without operational disruptions. These capabilities along with other features of our solution are resonating very well in the market.
 
RT: What are the biggest threats you see to your company’s success?
BN: Current economic issues and concerns may temporarily slow adoption and migration plans which could impact spending levels in the enterprise communication and SOA markets. However, it’s still too early to tell what effect, if any, this will have on our success.
 
RT: What will conferees learn from your ITEXPO conference session this month?
BN: We are participating in two sessions at the ITEXPO. The first is on Wednesday January 22, titled “SOA: Special Double Session”. This session will examine the role of IP technology in SOA and Web service environments. We will explore how communications has much more far-reaching capabilities than just transporting voice and data communications. We’ll explore communication integration with other fundamental business processes, such as accounting, human resources, manufacturing, shipping and inventory control — a few examples of how customers can tie together disparate business processes. The second is on Thursday, January 23 titled, “Leveraging SOA & Web Services to Build the Modern Contact Center”. This session will examine a new paradigm — one that enables call centers to integrate disparate applications, automate processes, extend functionality and build new composite applications, quickly and easily.
 
RT: Who should attend?
BN: Enterprise CIOs, IT managers, architects, application developers, telecom and network engineers and managers.
 
RT: What unique perspectives will you offer?
BN: In the first session, we will discuss how Web developers can easily and rapidly create and deploy new communications-enabled applications without specialized telephony knowledge. We’ll also examine navigating a path towards SOA and how new levels of business agility can be achieved through a combination of unified communications and communications-enabled business processes. In the second session, we will discuss how the modern contact center can leverage SOA, Web 2.0 and IP telephony to create rich agent desktops based on today’s latest technologies, integrate with the rest of the organizational IT through SOA, and leverage SIP-based IP telephony for anywhere, anytime access to applications and communications.
 
RT: What is the most exciting market change we can expect in communications in technology in 2008 and beyond?
BN: Enterprise telephony will continue to evolve into being just another software application integrated with other IT or SOA applications through Web services instead of being an isolate system (such as a PBX (News - Alert) or IP PBX) comprised mainly of proprietary hardware and cumbersome CTI interfaces.
 
RT: Please make one surprising prediction for 2008.
BN: Google expands AdWords advertising to phone calls.
 
 
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC. In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended IP Communications event, Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO.
 
 
Mark your calendars! Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO — the first major IP communications event of the year — is just days away. It’s not too late to register for the event, which takes place in Miami Beach, FL, January 23–25, 2008. The EXPO will feature three valuable days of exhibits, conferences and networking that you won’t want to miss. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
 


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