What is Cloud Telephony?


I guess "Cloud" is the current buzzword. After reading about cloudwashing in "Will the real private cloud please stand up?", I started to think about it in our industry, Telecom. Does, taking a PRI card from a service provider, hooking it up to an Asterisk box containing a Digium card and connecting it to the Internet constitute a cloud telephony service? Well maybe you can call it that. But is it the real deal?

So, in this article I will try to enumerate the characteristics of a cloud telephony service and list its advantages. But before we start, let me make a disclaimer that the views in this post are my personal observations and being human, I may be wrong. If you think I have made some mistakes, please correct them in the comments section below.

To get the proper definition of a cloud telephony service, I took the definition given by NIST for cloud computing as the root document. As per that document, every cloud model should have 5 essential characteristics. I will list those 5 characteristics and relate that to telephony.

1. On-demand Self-Service

A consumer can unilaterally provision telephony resources like phone numbers, PRIs, Audio storage as needed automatically without requiring human interaction. This can be made possible through exhaustive provisioning APIs. Do I have to call a person to get a telephony resource or can I get it on my own?

2. Broad Network Access

Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms. Consumers should be able to login from anywhere and control their resources. Since the resources are accessible on the network through standard mechanisms, they should be easy to integrate into your existing systems. Can I login from anywhere and view my calls? Can I integrate telephony into my current applications? Do you have an API to access your capabilities?

3. Resource Pooling

The provider’s telecom resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

4. Rapid Elasticity

Ports can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time. Can I handle 100 calls during peak time and 10 calls during non-peak time?

5. Measured Service

Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., number of inbound calls, number of outbound calls, and number of spam calls). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service. Can I access my resource usage on the web or programmatically? Can I control my resource usage programmatically?

As you can see, if we apply a strict definition of cloud telephony, there are not many players who fit the bill. Especially so in India, where a whole host of regulations can also prevent you from providing true cloud solutions.

For example, since this relates to live telephone calls, you cannot host your solution in Amazon as live call data should not cross international boundaries. So the only way out is to have a private cloud in Indian data centers.

Also, though rapid elasticity with provisioning appearing to be unlimited is expected, there will always be a limit to the telecom resources. It could vary from 10 ports to 10000 ports depending on the cloud telephony provider.

In spite of all the problems, cloud telephony is here to stay. Thanks to cloud telephony, businesses can now get a full featured business phone system in a few minutes. Just sign up, get a phone number and start getting calls (http://www.cpbx.in, http://www.knowlarity.com/products/superreceptionist.html)

Thanks to cloud telephony, businesses can now have call centers on the cloud (http://www.cloudagent.in). Just sign up, assign agents and start getting calls on your agent mobile phones.

Thanks to cloud telephony, businesses are now building innovative voice services (http://www.kookoo.in)

These 5 characteristics have been the driving force for us while building KooKoo and we have tried to adhere to them as much as possible.

About the Author

Chaitanya Chokkareddy is the Principal Architect at Ozonetel. A techno geek, Chaitanya can cook up new frameworks in a jiffy. He has worked in various technologies with telecom being his new passion.Within telecom, he is focused on leveraging Internet to deliver telecom solutions. A Masters graduate from University of Florida in the US, Chaitanya brings years of diverse experience to his role at Ozonetel and is constantly looking at new ways to innovate.


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