Microsoft in the IP Surveillance House

May 30, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Microsoft’s sales force amping up IP surveillance pitch

Just finished reading Michael Fickes article on Microsoft’s sales force’s adjusted stance on the company’s global security department. What does that mean? Well it means the global security department is about to be put to work. It looks like Microsoft talked with local, state and federal agencies about Microsoft’s products, the G.S.O.C’s. What’s a G.S.O.C? Well its Microsoft’s Global Security Operations Centers…GSOC’s just sounds so much cooler.

What Happens at a GSOC?

They are state-of-the-art centers that manage video surveillance and access control systems. They lock and unlock doors, they can dispatch security officers and vehicles, and they can host emergency operations teams.


Women in VoIP: The Series

I’m always reading about the lack of women in technology and science and the VoIP world in general.  Stacy Higginbotham at GIGAOM does a great job covering technology in general, and brought up a great point in regards to a New York Times article about the decline of women in technology past the age of 30.

I must say, in the world of VoIP blogging, I come across very few women.  At VoIP Supply there are probably only a handful of women, and only one on the sales floor.  This is not the fault of the company that I work for or human resources, it’s a trend spread across the whole industry.  But it is getting better.  Many of my girl friends are engineers, project managers, doctors, researchers, etc.  We are all still under the age of 30, but most of them intend to continue their career path, no matter what family life or stresses come their way.

I decided to go on a mission to find women in the VoIP phone systems world, and write a blog promoting the women in this industry.  Some are in marketing, some are in technology, and some are even CEOs.  The response I have received has been overwhelming and wonderful.  Much more than I thought I would receive from a few little questions and a pitch on Facebook!  Because of the numerous responses, I’m going to feature this as a blog series, explaining the triumphs and challenges these women have experienced in the VoIP world, and what they see for the future.  Get ready; these are some very busy, intelligent and engaging ladies!

As for my own experiences?  So far being a woman hasn’t made a smidgen of a difference.  The difference comes in how knowledgeable you are in the field, much like any industry.  So every day is a continual exploration of the VoIP world, and the people that live and work in it.

My first featured lady of VoIP is Lisa Jones; Chief Eyemail Officer at EyeMail Inc. Ms. Jones has been working in VoIP since 2004 and resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

How did you become interested/introduced to VoIP?

I became interested in VOIP by default. I was interested in creating an Internet-based product that could combine the Internet with email, but to add an audio, video element. I honestly wanted to create a revolutionary product, so that when the time came for me to be honored, it would be in the memory of my mother, Gladys D. Jones. I wanted to give back for all that she had given to me. I realized that if I could create a next level email product, now known as EyeMail, I could change the course of email communications and honor my commitment to my mother. This was accomplished without a technical background, but with 4.5 years of hard work, sleepless nights, and developers from all over the world. My company is now in negotiations with some of the world’s leading brands.

How does EyeMail use VoIP Technologies?

EyeMail represents the state of the art next generation of email, delivering personalized audio and/or video communications directly to the email inbox. EyeMail delivers at 4-15k in size, no attachments, no downloads and is completely virus free, inclusive of a click to call feature. The patent-pending EyeMail technology integrates VOIP technologies in delivering cutting edge email marketing and communication solutions for our clients. Our clients include Fortune 500 brands and medium and small businesses which we help to develop their online communications.

What is it like working as a woman in the VoIP world?

It is a quite a fast and exciting time, as we all rely on various segments of technology as a part of our daily existence. It is also most exciting and fulfilling to be women seeing an evolution of new technology expand. I am also excited because I have the opportunity to pave the way for others, and to serve as a mentor and to let them know they can achieve in the technology arena, with faith, persistence, calculated risks and bold moves. Additionally, I am not a developer or a coder, but if you have a vision and the knowledge of business, you can surround yourself with the right technology resources to help fulfill your goals.

What are some of your networking/marketing methods?

Some of my key marketing methods include using the EyeMail product to introduce products and services, directly via email. We send out personalized audio email communications that include a call to call feature to increase our response rates. As the average person, is not looking for their email to talk to them, this gives us a very competitive marketing advantage.

How is it working with men in VoIP?

As a woman trailblazer, you may experience moments where your contribution is not valued, acknowledged or recognized, you may even feel taken advantage of in some situations, but as a trailblazer you have to keep your eye on the prize, and press forward. In any business industry, you will have challenges and success, and working in the VOIP is no different. I think you have to be very careful as to who you may choose to partner with in particular ventures with your VOIP business. My best advice is to ensure your technology platform is protected, remember to request NDAs to be signed where applicable and keep pressing forward. Once your business is making significant strides, you will be very well respected by all.

What do you see for the future of women in VoIP?

I think the future for women in VOIP is going to be revolutionary. I believe we will start to see more young adults in the VOIP area, taking technology to the next level. As women, we can focus on so many aspects at any given moment to execute, and with VOIP it leads to a world of possibilities. Additionally, I believe we will see more women businesses seeking national certification with the Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). This certification will empower women business in technology and various business industries to seek to do more business with corporate America, as diversity and inclusion are key business drivers.

Thirdlane PBX Provides Easy Asterisk Management

May 29, 2008 by Arthur Miller

Can’t find the right Asterisk-based solution? Don’t have the expertise to manage an open-source phone system?

Thirdlane PBX, an Asterisk management tool, requires no Linux or Asterisk experience to manage and install.

  • Ease of Installation.PBX Manager is a Webmin module and can be installed in minutes without requiring any database or web server software. PBX Manager Installation or upgrade is just a matter of pointing at a URL and clicking install button.
  • Ease of operation. No special knowledge of Linux or Asterisk is required for the operation, so the management functions can be performed by regular staff. PBX Manager Permission’s system can be used for limiting users’ access to the system features as required.
  • Extendability. PBX Manager is shipped with a set of sample configuration files and a script repository for the common PBX functions. You may extend the included script repository with your own scripts taking advantage of the full power of Asterisk.
  • Ease of support.Use of Webmin as a platform for PBX Manager facilitates remote technical support. This is particularly important for the system integrators deploying Asterisk and PBX Manager for geographically distributed clients.

Thirdlane PBX 6.0 unlocks additional features typically found in other Asterisk management tools such as Trixbox.

  • Auto-provisioning
  • CRM Integration
  • Cluster Management
  • Enhanced Conference Configuration Management

Read the full press release here:

Sony, Axis, Bosch Playing Nice?

IP Surveillance Standards just around the corner

It was recently announced that three heavyweights (Sony, Axis, and Bosch) of the IP surveillance world will be working together to standardize an interface for all network video products. As you may or may not know there is currently no such standard. With Sony’s history of being a proprietary monger I must say I am quite shocked that they would agree to this. Everything they have ever touched is SONY ONLY. “In Sony we trust,” if you will. Well this is no longer at least when it comes to interfacing standards in the IP security and surveillance world.

So, what does it mean to not have standards? Well it means that without any standards for determining how IP network cameras talk to video encoders and recording software it can be difficult to get products from different manufacturers to communicate. Yes of course I know there are always workarounds, but wouldn’t it be nice to simply plug and play? Of course it would!

What they’re most likely looking to do is deliver a new standard of specs for video streaming, locating IP devices, and intelligence metadata, amongst others, with the end result being greater interoperability for network video products. Which would make everyones life a lot easier.

This would give the end user the ability to choose from different manufacturers…sweet. Sony = sweet? Yep, I said it. In pushing forward with a consensus on standards, it should open the market up a bit more and give both home and corporate users more choices.

Most importantly the three companies will set up an open forum for all groups to participate in discussions about guidelines and a framework for the standard. This framework will be released next fall.

IPCS Word(s) of the Day: Full Duplex

Full Duplex = A full-duplex system allows communication in both direction, and unlike half-duplex, allows this to happen simultaneously. Land-line telephone networks are full-duplex since they allow both callers to speak and be heard at the same time.  A good analogy for a full-duplex system would be a two-lane road with one lane for each direction.

iLocus Global VoIP Market 2008 Report Highlights

May 28, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Research firm iLocus recently released their Global VoIP Market 2008 report, which details their analysis of various VoIP market segments.

I received the executive summary today from a colleague, which contained a few snippets that got my attention. According to their report:

SIP Trunking has gained significant traction over the last 18 months. As of April 2008, there were over 5 million end users connected to SIP trunks. SIP trunking service revenues are forecast to touch $180 million during 2008 worldwide. By 2012 it is expected to be a $5 billion / year market.

I agree that the market for SIP trunking is gaining significant traction. I’d love to see a report on the breakdown of market share amongst SIP trunking providers.

In the US, Cable companies are leading the deployments. That however is likely to change with the Voice-over-Fiber offerings from AT&T (and possibly from Verizon in the near future). We expect AT&T to become the market leader in the segment over time. Verizon could have scalability issues due to its use of Open Source telephony platform for VoIP service.

I don’t think the dominance of fiber is a foregone conclusion. It is certainly an excellent pipe over which to provide voice services, given the amount of bandwidth it offers. I am still waiting for WiMax to shake out, and curious to see what happens when the mobile providers start to roll out some decent mobile data services.

Most telcos and switch vendors are working to get their Voice 2.0 (Communications Aware Mashups) developer programs in place. On one hand the availability of high level APIs such as the Web Services APIs opens up application development to hundreds of thousands of web developers. On the other, those developers who invest substantial amounts of money into their applications prefer to go direct to the end user, utilizing Open Source telephony platforms.

This is where telephony will be “bringing Sexy back”. I agree wholeheartedly.

Ad supported telephony is the new rage. There are ad agencies and enablers in the market that let a VoIP provider monetize the traffic through ads. It is interesting to note that the traditional telecom switch vendors are also starting to develop capability for ad supported telephony offerings. Some vendors are ready to support service providers that decide to adopt this type of model. Their application servers are able to mix existing and new services with advertising. Ad supported telephony is yet to be proven but there are various media oriented telephony companies in the field.

I’m not sold on this. I think that ad supported anything…long term…is going to be less viable. For things like 411 and enhanced services, I might be willing to tolerate some voice ads. For basic dialtone….I’m just not having it.

Estimated 1.18 trillion minutes of VoIP traffic was carried by service providers worldwide in 2007. That represents a 35% increase over 2006 VoIP traffic. Of these minutes, 286.3 billion was local call volume, 815.2 billion was national long distance (NLD) call volume, and 81.4 billion was the international long distance (ILD) call volume.

That’s a lot of minutes.

In the enterprise segment, an estimated 11.4 million desktop IP phones were shipped in 2007, thereby generating revenues of about $1.13 billion worldwide. Cisco leads the market having shipped 4.9 million desktop IP phones accounting for 43.8% market share worldwide. Cisco’s lead is followed by Avaya at number two and Nortel at number three.

Wish I could see some reporting on what percentage, overall, of those 4.9 million Cisco phones went into production on a Cisco platform. It would not surprise me to learn that 15% or more of Cisco’s phones sold in 2007 are being used in conjunction with a standards based SIP OSS derived platform or hosted service platform.

Enterprise VoIP gateway ports shipment in 2007 touched 14.8 million, and the revenues touched $500 million. Cisco took market share of 72.9%. Motorola emerged as the leader in 2007 for the ATA market. In 2007 vendors shipped a total of about 6.79 million ATAs to the business segment, thereby generating revenue of $314.2 million.

That’s a lot of ATAs. That’s an impressive number given the shakeout in 2007 amongst residential VoIP service providers in the US market. Motorola seems like the preferred CPE vendor amongst many cable operators….I’m guessing a lot of these ATAs were sold in conjunction with voice services from cable providers like Comcast.

In 2007 vendors shipped a total of about 6.9 million pure IP PBX end user licenses, thereby generating revenue of $678.5 million. These figures exclude hybrid systems. From 2007 onwards we started tracking pure IP PBX system only. Cisco (market share 60.5%) dominated the pure IP PBX market in 2007.

I assume here they are tracking “tier 1” vendors like Cisco, Avaya and Nortel. It would be very difficult to determine the number of end users serviced by OSS telephony platforms in 2007.

Twitter Talk

My friend and colleague, Nicole Schuman, recently posted about Twitter and its ability to “facilitate better connections.” I wanted to extrapolate a bit further on the flexibility, versatility, and visibility that Twitter enables Voip Supply to have and to offer our customers. First off let’s talk about Twitter. If you don’t already know, Twitter is a micro blogging platform. It alows for communication between Twitter accounts by simply putting an @ in your tweet. Which brings me to tweets…what are they? Well if you have seen instant messages, then you know what a tweet is. So just how does Twitter offer flexibility, versatility and visibility for us here at VoIP Supply? Well here goes…

Flexibility: You can access it from anywhere…and I mean anywhere. Your IPhone, any Web connection through IM, or web applications such as thwirl. Which enables you to keep people up to date. This helps hot news spread. Whether you are at work, at home or in commute, you can update.

Versatility: With in the 140 character limit (yes there is a limit, but its a good thing–it forces you to get to the point) you have the ability to simply point your readers in the direction of a story or put a question out there for anyone to answer. It really is as much or as little as you want it to be.

Visibility: Twitter automatically updates from our Voip Insider blog which is fantastic! With the auto updating (by way of a third party application) it grants visibility into what we are doing with in the company, community and marketplace. With blog articles written by our dynamic team of authors including our CEO Benjamin Sayers all things VoIP are covered in both the blogging space and the micro blogging space that Twitter allows us to utilize.

Ultimately Twitter is another channel used to communicate with our customers, partners and friends. It’s a tool that everyone can appreciate. Some come take a look and Join us on Twitter!

VoIP on iPhone Via RingFree

One of the products that I have recently begun playing with is the RF Dialer for the iPhone from RingFree. RingFree is a San Francisco-based company that is creating mobile telephony softwares and services with their first product being the RF Dialer for the iPhone.

The RF Dialer is a slick web based application that allows users to make SIP calls via your cellular or WiFi network using an existing service provider. That’s right, this software as a service is BYOP “bring your own provider.”

The last few days I have been using the RF Dialer in conjunction with service from Junction Networks and have been impressed with the ease of use and call quality that I have experienced. I wrote a more detailed review of the service here.

Overall, if you are an iPhone owner looking to make SIP based VoIP calls, you cant go wrong with the RF Dialer from RingFree.

Asterisk Lags Behind Other Platforms in SIP over TCP Support

Alex Lewis over at NetworkWorld has written a story on SIP protocol support (UDP, TCP, TLS). Currently, Asterisk only supports SIP over UDP, and is lagging behind most of the “Tier 1” vendors in support for SIP over TCP.

Alex’s story includes a comparison of platforms and supported SIP frameworks.

I did find a SIP over TCP patch in development here, but it does not appear to have much developer activity in the past few months.

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