September 18, 2008
Broadsoft's David Bukovsky Presents Keynote at ITEXPO West
By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group
David Bukovsky is Vice President of Products for BroadSoft (News - Alert) (www.broadsoft.com), a major provider of VoIP application software enabling delivery of next-gen hosted telephony and multimedia services by wireless, wireline and cable carriers. At ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2008 in Los Angeles, Bukovsky delivered a keynote on today’s dynamic world of collaborative and mash-up technologies. Said Bukovsky, “Internet and Web-based applications are merging and working with telephony-based application.” He went on to describe a BroadSoft program that serves as an example of how hosted service/applications provider can take voice and video applications and mash them up with Web-based and Internet-based applications.
“The concept is not new,” said Bukovsky. “Web-based mapping software, for example, has been around for a long time. We all use it. You go on something like a Google (News - Alert) Maps and find a location. The ability to go online and look at real estate and find a home has been around for a long time too. With a mash-up program, I can combine the two and go see a map of houses that I want to buy. So with Web-based mash-ups one Web application is mashed up with another Web application. This concept has been pretty well accepted in the industry. It has been around for quite some time.”
“Web applications are prolific,” said Bukovsky. “Facebook (News - Alert) receives 140 new mash-ups a day. Developers all over the world are looking at the APIs on Facebook and are writing applications that mash up Facebook with other applications. Application integration, though, is now moving away from just Web-to-Web applications, toward communications applications. So we’re seeing a lot of this with the innovation that’s occurring relating to the iPhone (News - Alert). Developers all over the place just can’t wait to write applications for the iPhone. Apple estimates that they’re selling one million dollars a day in iPhone application sales, and that figure is probably going to grow significantly.”
“We at BroadSoft view voice integration as a new expansion opportunity in the mash-up space to combine Internet-based applications with real-time voice and video multimedia applications,” said Bukovsky.
“The reasons why carriers want these is to create new revenue opportunities and to create better customer satisfaction,” said Bukovsky. “If your customer is using an application from your network and they’ve got it tied into another application that they use, and it's not available in another network or it’s something that they’re very comfortable with and they like it, then they are less likely to abandon it and move off your network. You’re going to increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and ultimately increase revenue and profitability through the reduction of churn.”
“The customers of voice service providers are already using web-based applications today,” said Bukovsky. “And it’s not just kids using Facebook instead of email. You also see sales professionals that are using hosted CRM applications such as Salesforce.com and living in those applications. Service providers and voice service providers need to realize that in order to reach their customers, they sometimes need to reach them within the web applications that they use. This is not ‘going to’ happen — it is already happening today.”
“To give you an example of how Internet applications merge with telephony-based applications, let me talk about our program at BroadSoft called Extended” said Bukovsky. “It really illustrates how you can roll out one of these. There are three main parts to our program: The first thing we have are the proper APIs on the platform. We’ve always had a rich set of open APIs, but we found that we had to develop a new family of APIs that are more Web 2.0 oriented. Second, if you want developers to innovate around your platform, then you must support them. You have to answer their questions. You have to give them a way to try things out. That’s why we have a great developers program. Third, because traditionally in the voice space it takes a long time for applications to reach end users, we had to think about how to change the game a little bit - how we could get these applications out to end users without them having to be formally offered through the normal service provider process. To do that, we’ve come up with the concept of a ‘marketplace’. It’s really not new - I can go and get plenty of applications for my Blackberry today that don’t come from my service provider, AT&T. So we’re basically just expanding on something that’s already out there.”
“In terms of the interfaces, there are Web-based applications users, customers of voice and video services are out there today using these Web-based applications,” said Bukovsky. “I state that as a well-known fact. They’re using Web Services, from Web 2.0 service providers. There are many consumer-oriented examples but again, there are other examples such as hosted CRM systems that apply more to business. Those users are integrating in through the carrier’s network via the Web 2.0 APIs that we build on the platform that sits in the carrier’s network. Those APIs are what we call ‘RESTful’ APIs. That means that they are lightweight, easy to use, built around HTTP, and they can encapsulate other protocols under HTTP containers and they’re very easy for developers to develop applications with. The idea behind developers building these applications is not that these things would take years or months, or even weeks. These are applications that can be developed ‘after work’ or on the weekend. We have a developers contents going on right now, and many developers writing applications are blogging about their experience. I recall reading one recently where the fellow wrote, ‘It was raining on Sunday, so while my child was taking a nap, I went downstairs and I started writing this application. I didn’t get it done, but one day when I cam home from work, I finished it’. Those are the kind of timescales we’re looking at to get these applications written and out to the marketplace.”
“But, as I said earlier, to really get developers to innovate and become excited about writing applications, they need to be supported,” said Bukovsky. “So what we’ve done at BroadSoft is to create a developers site, where we put all of the documentation on the APIs and how to use them. We also put sample application code up there too, so people can see to how write to the APIs and then they can envision how they can do it in their own projects. We also support forums and blogs and Wikis, and we have employees who go in these forums and answer questions and they write blogs and otherwise support the developers.”
“Then there’s our concept of the ‘sandbox’,” said Bukovsky. “The easiest way to describe a sandbox is that, now every developer has a lab system. It’s posted by us, maintained by us and managed for them, that they can access via the Internet, so that they don’t have to buy, maintain or support a lab system. Now that every developer has such a system, they can quickly test and validate their application, and otherwise try it out. We call that our sandbox.”
“The marketplace is of course the place to get the applications,” said Bukovsky. “Think of it as a software.com or a download.com. Look at the hosted CRM space and salesforce.com’s page that’s an ‘app exchange’ where you can get applications that can be plugged into salesforce.com. The idea is to have an exchange where end users can get to the applications in a rapid way, where they don’t necessarily have to go through the carrier’s service introduction process. It’s basically an internal distribution method and really a way to spur some innovation and try to get these applications out there, and let them start trying them and to send some feedback back to developers so that they can improve, monetize and ultimately commercialize their apps.”
Bukovsky then showed screenshots of some examples of real applications written by developers using the BroadSoft APIs and found on the BroadSoft developers Web site.
“As you can see, it’s easy to write these applications and to do these telephony-based mash-ups,” said Bukovsky, “especially if you have the proper environment support it — the right APIs and a legitimate developers support program to encourage developers to proceed.”
Bukovsky concluded with, “The message I want to leave you with is — to make Internet applications, Web applications and voice applications work together, you must have a simple API — it must be something that people can understand, and they should be able to find the documentation, and write applications to it and get good support. Then they can leverage the great ideas that are out there. We at BroadSoft launched our developers program in April 2008, and since then we’ve had over 1,000 developers sign up. For us, that’s pretty cool. We’ve added 1,000 developers to our product for free, and they’re all innovating around our platform. That’s many times bigger than our internal R&D organization. These developers have a lot of great ideas. There’s an immense amount of potential innovation out there, waiting to appear. You see it in the Facebook mash-ups. You see it in the iPhone applications. And you need to see it with hosted telephony as well. There are smart customers out there who want these things and know how to use them, and smart developers who are more than willing to develop them. They just need a little help.”
INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year — is going on this week (September 16-18, 2008) in Los Angeles, California! The show features three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Be sure to check out TMCnet.com and blogs from Rich Tehrani, Greg Galitzine, and Tom Keating for news highlights from the show. See you there!
Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC�s IP Communications Group. To read more of Richard�s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi