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January 21, 2013

Unified Communications with Elastix

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

Ecuador-based PaloSanto Solutions is a provider of IT services for the Latin-American and international marketplace. The company offers 24/7 support, training, consulting, IT consulting and software development.

But most notable is PaloSanto’s flagship product Elastix, which is open source software designed for Unified Communications (News - Alert). Elastix has multiple features, including: IP telephony, mail server, fax server, conferences, instant messaging server, among others.

New features, functionalities and services are added at the development of new versions.

The company will soon open the Elastix Pavilion at the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) 2013 event, which will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.

TMCnet recently caught up with Paul Estrella, product manager of PaloSanto Solutions, to discuss the current state of the Latin American communications market, and to get his take on the most pressing industry developments predicted for this year.

Remote access to online services, and in that sense the Internet, and the continued development of accessibility tools is the most significant technology trend impacting the way businesses conduct operations, according to Estrella. 

Read our full exchange below:

TMCnet: How is cloud computing changing the way you operate your business? 

PE: Positively. It appears as the potential for additional functionalities that allows our customers to integrate new services to their telephony systems, or in some cases provide it remotely.

TMCnet: Have security concerns around cloud computing been effectively addressed by the market, or is security still impediment to adoption?

PE: Security is an important and current topic that needs more attention, not only from development companies but also from service providers. In safety issues specifically targeting VoIP implementations, providers are not in the same pace as people who create security problems.

As developers, we have worked creating ways to make our customer implementations safer, though many times we have had to limit ourselves to just making recommendations.

TMCnet: How has the unprecedented growth of social media changed the way you manage your customers?

PE: We have been working in social media for more than four years, so we just had to make small adjustments. I think the most important point of this growth is that now content needs to be much better, because the consumer is much more educated than before.

TMCnet: “Customer Experience” has become a buzzword and 2013 may well become characterized as the Year of Customer Experience. What is your business doing to improve your customers’ experiences?

PE: In our case, creating functionalities and end-user applications, because as solution developers, our interaction with the user experience has been a bit ‘global’, but we understand that each day the end user interacts more with the outside world and that can turn to be another referring point for us.

TMCnet: Keeping in mind that BYOD is now pervasive and no longer a phenomenon, will BYOD heavily influence your business in 2013 (whether from a security, policy or device or app management perspective) or have we moved beyond BYOD?

PE: I think BYOD is rare in Latin America, but it is an important point to consider. Fortunately there are current developments that tend to keep the experience on the software side, regardless of the device. Our case is precisely that one.

TMCnet: BYOS – Bring Your Own Storage (or rather, Bring Your Own Cloud-based Storage) – and dealing with it may, in fact, now be the new major issue most enterprises and solutions providers need to deal with. Is your company prepared to deal with it, either at the carrier level or through independent vendors?

PE: In our case, our solution is oriented to be managed by an administrator. End users have no direct access to generate backups, therefore any cloud storage is related to the work done in other services you have on your company.

However, I think it is important to analyze the addition of a feature that allows end users to perform backups. Firstly there is personal information that is handled in some services, e.g. contacts, voicemails or e-mails. The feature can exist and even be able to provide direct storage to a service, at the end if the policy is enabled or not rests with the company.

TMCnet: Should enterprises look to pre-empt BYOS issues by moving to carefully controlled cloud storage in 2013?

It depends on the company and the type of business. Imposed control at times results controversial and not necessarily achieves the desired effects.

Nevertheless I think it's important to know where technology is going in that sense, this will allow us to design contingency policies and understand how the end user will behave.

Unified Communications and VoIP have moved beyond the early adopter phase into the mainstream. What significant issues still remain that businesses must contend with as they determine when and how to migrate to IP-based communications?

This question mainly depends on the country. Countries with greater technological development may not require much more investment in infrastructure, their needed investment is likely to be around just 10 percent and hence should focus more on completing the training of the end users to fully migrate.

In the case of Latin America, there still exists a major gap in infrastructure investment that needs to be filled; to this we must add the diffusion of new technologies and more training time for end users. Although there have been important efforts in some countries, in which service providers (telephone carriers) already provide VoIP, others are just thinking about executing the first phase (infrastructure).

TMCnet: Will 2013 be the year the laptop dies? Why or why not?

PE: I think not, I think laptops still have some time left. The discussion in the past was focused on the level of performance of a desktop computer versus a laptop, the laptop is now replacing the desktop but is still needed for certain jobs.

If the question is directed to an increment in mobile devices for the business world, although I think that every day there are better developments in applications, these do not yet replace the services used in a laptop, for various reasons, functionality, form, infrastructure and wireless access.

TMCnet: What impact will Windows 8 have on the mobile market? Can it be a real competitor to iOS and Android (News - Alert)? Where does RIM fit into the landscape?

PE: I think it’s a competitor who is still trying to understand the market. Microsoft (News - Alert) must make Windows 8 attractive enough that most producers of smartphones include it. In that sense, if Microsoft does not do so, the competition will most likely stay between iOS and Android, including as a potential factor, how attractive it is for developers to create applications for these two leading platforms.

RIM still has market predominance in the pre-touch era. In many countries, especially developing ones, they still remain as the first choice, but they should not take much to introduce innovation.

TMCnet: Will 2013 finally bring widespread video communications adoption?

PE: Video is something that has been working its way hard for about three years, the developments are there, the infrastructure is there, devices, protocols, etc. are all there. It only remains left to ask the users if they want it in their environment. Video in certain cases can feel invasive.

TMCnet: What is the most disruptive technology that will hit mainstream markets this year and why?

PE: Hard to say, there have been significant developments in communications in the past seven years, many of them related to the increasingly strong presence of open source solutions. What is yet to be achieved is a considerable improvement in energy efficiency that will allow a real development in mobile connections. Also carriers currently control data plans tightly, in this sense we are going backwards.

TMCnet: What is the one misconception you would like to see set straight in the technology markets?  

PE: That the development of technology depends on a significant capital investment. In this regard it is important what the open source and open hardware solutions are doing. Market perception must change accordingly and stop thinking that there is no professional support for such solutions.

TMCnet: What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO Miami 2013?

I want to see what the developers of unified communications solutions are doing for the end user, nothing related to a nicer phone or things like that but rather something that improves productivity significantly, something well thought out that would allow you to take full advantage of the solution, not as an administrator but as an end user.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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