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September 25, 2006

BlueNote Networks Intros SessionSuite SOA for Enhanced Enterprise Telephony

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Associate Editor


BlueNote Networks, a company that specializes in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) solutions, today announced the introduction a new VoIP software product, SessionSuite SOA Edition, which is targeted to the global enterprise market. TMCnet spoke to Mark Ericson, Director of SOA Product Strategy at BlueNote, to find out more.
 
The Need
 
BlueNote developed SessionSuite SOA in response to increased popularity of both SOA solutions and growth of mobile workers. The solution was designed to create business value from telephony by creating a truly interactive SOA, Ericson told TMCnet.
 
“For the most part, people aren't sitting at their desk on the phone all the time,” he noted. "People are using their cell phones for many of their business communications.”
 
The SOA technology in SessionSuite allows workers to access their company’s communications system from anywhere, and also make that system more efficient and valuable by reusing different functions (referred to as services).
 
Advantages of SOA
 
Ericson said that most enterprises now include information technology (IT) in their strategies for staying competitive. Recently, companies have begun to realize that the abilities of SOA-based solutions—namely, increased reuse of assets, reduced expense, and less risk—can offer significant business value.
 
Yet, for the most part, SOA solutions have focused mostly on the data side of IT, with enterprise telephony not keeping pace with the innovations being realized, Ericson told TMCnet. Too often, he noted, enterprise telephone systems are dominated by monolithic, proprietary, hardware-based infrastructures.
 
BlueNote hopes to change that by offering a robust software product that can deliver not only basic telephony needs, but also many advanced features and benefits.
 
“By bringing together telecom and SOA, there can be a new level of business agility for phone systems,” Ericson said.
 
Introducing SessionSuite SOA
 
Specifically, SessionSuite SOA helps companies derive business value from their telephony systems by tying together interactive communications with business processes.
 
The primary advantages of this approach are listed below.
 
Business agility -- quickly deploy applications to take advantage of new business opportunities
Asset reuse -- make the system more efficient by sharing and reusing services
Application decoupling -- services can evolve independently from hardware
Application composition and integration -- new services and applications can easily be developed using a common model
Common SOA infrastructure -- all service components can be centrally managed
 
On its own, SessionSuite provides a complete and sufficient telephony infrastructure capable of delivering services across the firewall to users regardless of their location. The solution also bridges to the PBX (News - Alert), interoperates with both the PSTN and SIP-based vendor products, and enables the deployment of Web-enabled services.
 
Reusing Assets, Applying Business Logic
 
The SOA structure of SessionSuite means services can be pooled into a catalog of sorts, and reused in different applications—particularly useful for Web-based applications. The solution also “consumes” Web services in the sense that external services can be run as part of the SOA infrastructure, allowing business logic to be applied.
 
The ability to use business logic is a key advantage of SessionSuite SOA. Using this functionality, Ericson explained, means that a phone call (or other communications session) can be tagged with information—such as a customer's account number—that stays with the call as it is transferred to the appropriate personnel.
 
This “loose coupling” means information from one application can be reused by another, resulting in happier customers and more efficient employees. For example, when someone calls a customer service number they won't have to provide key account information more than once—it is attached to the call on first entry, and stays with it as the call navigates the system to a rep.
 
Examples
 
To illustrate the functions of SessionSuite SOA, Ericson provided several examples of how it might be used to create business value using an enterprise telephony system.
 
Example 1: Enterprise XYZ, a financial services company, is creating Web services to handle phone calls from clients. The company needs to build a “wall” that prevents calls placed by brokers from being connected directly to analysts. SessionSuite enables the company to use a database of client information to identify callers and route their calls appropriately. So, when a broker calls the organization, the system identifies that person and routes the call to a compliance agent. This process may include a screen pop on the agent side with information about the caller. The call also is logged for later auditing.
 
Example 2: Enterprise XYZ also needs to help out users on its Web site when they run into trouble. SessionSuite enables the company to create a Web service so users can click a button to call the company. As the call is being handled by a routing service, key information—caller’s identity, priority, the Web page involved—is attached so that the agent who picks up the call can hit the ground running.
 
Example 3: We revisit Enterprise XYZ again, this time as it builds a Web application allowing users to register for alerts when the price of a particular stock reaches a certain amount. SessionSuite allows the information in this service to be re-used, so that a call routing service—without needing any knowledge of the actual location the user is calling from—can identify the person by customer ID, examine that person's contact preferences, and place an alert call (perhaps with an IVR message). If the user is interested in finding out more, the system can connect the client to the agent who previously handled the case.
 
Ericson noted that, in these scenarios, decisions about how to route calls are made using application-based information. The result is integration between communications and data.
 
Key Advantages of SessionSuite SOA
 
Ericson emphasized that SessionSuite SOA is a scalable, 100-percent software-based platform that’s inexpensive and quick to deploy.
 
Four key advantages of SessionSuite SOA are listed below.
 
100 Percent Software Platform -- utilizes existing equipment, re-usable services allow for rapid, economical deployments
Legacy Investment Protection -- works with existing PBX, VoIP and VM systems, non-distruptive to telecom services
Extended Enterprise -- operates over any network (e.g. IP, PSTN), SIP-based services enable rich features
Enhanced SOA Integration -- allows business applications to drive call processing, includes powerful data/session correlation capabilities
 
Availability and Pricing
 
SessionSuite SOA is now available, with a list price starting at $250 per user. BlueNote also is offering a companion software development kit (SDK) for $2,000 that includes a limited version of SessionSuite for development purposes.
 
SessionSuite Desktop
 
BlueNote also today is announcing the availability of its enhanced SessionSuite Desktop softphone.
 
“SessionSuite Desktop fits seamlessly into a Windows environment,” Ericson told TMCnet. Calls can be placed from within Word, Outlook and other Office applications.
 
SessionSuite Desktop is very user-centric in the sense that it gives the person making or receiving calls a great deal of control over communications sessions. For example, when a user gets a notification on the computer screen that a call is coming in, he or she can choose which phone to pick the call up on.
 
Calls can also be seamlessly transferred from one phone to another—for example, in a case when someone wants to continue a conversation by switching it from the desktop phone to a cell phone.
 
SessionSuite Desktop also integrates with SessionSuite SOA, allowing users to quickly and easily access their company's communications system from anywhere in the world.
 
“That’s in contrast to other technology, which might require you to log into your VPN before you can receive and place calls,” Ericson noted.
 
SessionSuite Desktop has a list price of $99.
 
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.
 
 
 



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