Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Absolute Favorite Company of the Internet Telephony Show

From the beginning of our lives, we found that we liked little, versatile things that we can put together in great ways. Legos- what an amazing thing they are. You don't need to tell a seven year old how to put them together to make a space ship.

My interest is in VoIP mashups. VoIP mashups take voice based services, control them using Web technologies such as REST or SOAP, and add in other web based services to make really cool new applications. Mashups, in general, make fantastic point solutions that can really address the needs of a narrow group of users quickly and inexpensively. Whenever I think about the vertically integrated stovepipe designs that dominate today's telecom solutions, I can't help but imagine a bunch of mashup geeks behind them snickering at how ridiculous they seem. I know - I need to get out more.

In the back of a booth (I think it belonged to ABP, and if it didn't Mr. Messer, get you *ss over there and sign them up) was a little company called CyberData Corporation. CyberData makes VoIP enabled ceiling speakers, paging gateways and loudspeaker amps. They even had a lock that you could dial into and give it a DTMF string to unlock it. I was completely enthralled. I know - I need to get out more.

Can you see what they are doing? CyberData is making these little Lego blocks that you can use for your own VoIP mashup. I imagine that I am an owner of a company that has multiple locations, but I want to have a paging system that I could deploy over the entire system without upgrading anything. I imagine that I am automating the floor of a hospital, and want to use voice prompts to remind the nurses about a particular patient's care schedule. With these sorts of products, I can just whip it together very easily. Cool? It gets cooler.

Stay with me on the hospital thing for a minute. As you thought about that hospital application, you might have imagined that the paging system was owned by this software reading the patient schedule. What happens when you want to add another application that wanted to use the pager as well? Let say we've got this disaster response program that was going to direct staff to the appropriate stations. In the OLD way of engineering, you would have to figure out how these two applications should talk with each other, so that they would share the paging system. In the NEW way of engineering, the endpoint is naturally smart, and would handle taking a request at time from any application, eliminating the need for integrating these two otherwise unrelated applications. Very cost effective, very scalable and very stable.

With the sort of stuff that CyberData is putting out, I know that I have a simple way in my new applications to send one way voice messages to any physical space, anywhere at any scale. Not only is that a tool that I know enterprises can use, it is an excellent example of the tools to come. Congratulations to them!

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