|I recently became a homeowner for the first time. While the house I
purchased needed some work (what house doesn't?) the price and location were right. More
important, it was built on a solid foundation. Sure enough, within a month after
purchasing my house, I discovered a flood in my basement. A pipe with a pinhole leak was
launching scalding hot water across my basement. So much for the excitement of fixing up
an old house.
WHERE'S BOB VILA?
I recently had a new furnace installed and after a cursory examination of the plumbing, I
determined that the leaking pipe was carrying water from the furnace. I called the plumber
who installed the furnace and he told me that he couldn't come to my house for a few days
but it was a simple problem that I could handle. I relished the challenge and proceeded to
listen to my plumber's step by step instructions. A quick trip to the hardware store and
20 dollars later, I entered my house with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm that was quickly
dampened by 200-degree water flooding my basement with the force of a tropical storm.
After much time, effort, and energy, I sealed the leaking pipe with a metal and rubber
Fixing and remodeling our homes is a national pastime. I'm not sure how many TV shows
focus on this topic, but it seems to me that the fascination has become an obsession.
Personally, I will leave the contractor work to those qualified whenever possible. Still,
I am glad I had this experience. I learned a great deal from it.
The first thing I learned was the most basic of maxims: The proper tool for the proper
job. Also, every tool requires proper guidance in how to use the tool. Without the
plumber's advice and the right supplies, there was no way at all that I was going to fix
the pipe. In fact, my inexperience in using the tools he suggested almost resulted in
multiple burns. Thankfully I emerged unscathed. This time.
The second thing I learned is that a house is like any other intricate, interrelated
system. From the human body to our nation's highways - everything is interconnected, and
any modification to one part of the system affects all other parts of the system. In this
case, the new furnace produced water at higher temperatures and with more pressure than my
previous furnace. When I installed the state-of-the-art, energy-efficient furnace, I did
not take into account that the existing furnace pipes were old and rusted. I had upgraded
one system but I didn't pay any attention to the other parts of the system.
This was a big mistake. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. We all know sports cars need
premium gas and high-performance tires. A nice suit demands a nice tie. A good wine
accompanies a fine meal. As I recently reminded our MIS department, my new 450 MHz
motherboard needs a very fast hard disk and so on.
THE POINT OF IT ALL
So it strikes me as quite odd when I hear developers developing telephony applications on
anything but an industrial computer. It is simply irresponsible to use a plain vanilla PC
or even a name-brand corporate computer for a mission-critical application such as
Dialogic Corp. develops and sells computer and
Internet telephony boards in huge volume. Whenever I visit Dialogic's laboratories, I see
their products being tested exclusively on industrial computers. I asked Howard Bubb,
Dialogic's president, what his opinion was of the use of industrial computers in Internet
"Industrial chassis are ideal for computer telephony servers or IP Telephony
gateways for several reasons," he replied. "Industrial chassis generally have
higher quality power supplies, more bus slots and more cooling power. Increasingly large
systems, many with complex signal processing requirements, are being built with open
systems. High quality power supplies means that the voltage is more consistent and the
power supply more durable.
"More bus slots means a system can be deployed that handles hundreds or even
thousands of telephony interfaces. And more cooling power means that the increased number
of boards will continue to function fine in a telco environment. This all helps to support
the trend we have seen for the last ten years of computer telephony open systems replacing
proprietary systems, since the industrial chassis allow more robust and more reliable
systems to be built and deployed."
In addition, consider that industrial computers are designed with multiple power
supplies and multiple RAID hard disk enclosures from the start. Hard disks and power
supplies don't fail often but they do inevitably fail and in telephony systems, failure is
simply unacceptable. Another benefit of industrial computers is that their manufacturers
are typically a bit more conservative about selling "bleeding edge" technology.
These manufacturers are inclined to sell products that already have the bugs worked out of
them. Finally, industrial computer systems usually consist of passive backplanes and
single-slot computer boards. This is an ideal configuration for rapid installation,
repair, upgrades, and expansion of PC-based telephony systems.
Indeed, industrial computer companies are doing extremely well serving the needs of the
telephony market whether it is CTI or Internet telephony development. This is an extremely
important market for these vendors because telephony by its very nature is so
mission-critical that it demands 24x7 availability.
An added benefit of industrial computer-based telephony - as opposed to traditional
telephony traveling over a PBX - is that the cost for redundancy is decreased due to the
mass production of PCs. Even if your PBX is available with redundant systems, you will pay
for it and pay dearly. PBX makers must recoup their development costs and they sell in
small volumes compared to the PC market.
Any builder will tell you that a solid foundation is important in the construction of any
building. The same is true of telephony applications. The foundation is the computer that
your application runs on and if it isn't sound, neither is your product. Make sure that
you use industrial computers for all of your telephony development and you will be assured
that you've done your part to ensure a trouble-free telephony environment. Now, if we
could only purchase a version of Industrial Windows NT we would be all set.