CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

Meet AudioCodes’ CloudBond 365 OPCH – Future-Proofed for Microsoft Teams

The real alternative for Cloud Connector Edition and coexistence

While out on the road to present the AudioCodes strategy around the Microsoft Teams journey in the weeks after Microsoft Ignite 2017, it became clear to me that we’d had the right vision back in 2014 when we introduced CloudBond 365. The resource forest model as a foundation for each member of the CloudBond 365 family demonstrates more than ever that our CloudBond 365 solutions enable our customers and partners to be future-proof.

CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

CloudBond 365 and SBC at HQ reconfiguration

After the announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2017, we at AudioCodes are highlighting the ability of CloudBond 365 to serve as an OPCH. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Microsoft acronym, OPCH stands for On-Premises Configuration Hybrid. As such, our CloudBond 365 OPCH is a PSTN connectivity appliance for Skype for Business Online, and serves as an alternative to Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) where coexistence with Skype for Business Server is required. Paul Cannon’s Microsoft blog refers directly to such third-party OPCH specific appliances for those who don’t want to modify their main deployment.

Over the past few weeks, our partners have been asking me when CloudBond 365 OPCH will become available, strongly indicating that they are continuing to enable Skype for Business Online users with Cloud PBX (now renamed Phone System) in a future-proof way.

The OPCH deployment model has been supported ever since the introduction of CloudBond 365, which means that we have this solution available right now. In the past, we referred to the solution as Skype for Business Hybrid Voice. Today, we refer to it by the OPCH acronym. As a matter of fact, most of our CloudBond 365 appliances installed over the past few years are deployed in this Hybrid Voice model, enabling voice services for Skype for Business Online. The exact same CloudBond 365 solution will also bring voice capability to Microsoft Teams in the future, through Direct Connect.

Something that will be new to our CloudBond 365 family ties in very well with Microsoft’s announcement that Modern Authentication for Skype for Business Server has gone to Public Preview. This allows CloudBond 365 to authenticate Skype for Business users against the Azure Active Directory, eliminating the need to set up bidirectional trusts between CloudBond 365 and the on-premises user forest(s). For topologies that are now supported in Public Preview, please read this.

It is also important to note that our entire CloudBond 365 family of solutions have User Management Pack 365 built-in. This is a powerful but simple web portal that ensures a smooth deployment and provides a single pane of glass across all Skype for Business deployment models.

If we go back to Paul Cannon’s blog, we can see Microsoft’s recommendation for enabling on-premises Skype for Business for Hybrid PSTN. This is an excellent moment to point out that User Management Pack 365 sits intuitively on top of existing on-premises Skype for Business deployments, connecting the enterprise environment with Microsoft Office 365 (‘split domain’) via special connectors. After the initial setup, UMP 365 empowers IT departments by facilitating a gradual and fully controlled migration to Microsoft’s Phone System today, and to Microsoft Teams in the future, from any existing Skype for Business deployment.

Our goal is to help our partners and customers stay on track with their journey to intelligent communications across Skype for Business Server and Microsoft Teams. For me personally, it has been very refreshing and rewarding to hear from our community over the past few weeks that we have exactly the right solution – at exactly the right time – to do just that.

To talk with an AudioCodes expert, click this button.

Let's Talk

 

After the announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2017, we at AudioCodes are highlighting the ability of CloudBond 365 to serve as an OPCH. Our goal is to help our partners and customers stay on track with their journey to intelligent communications across Skype for Business Server and Microsoft Teams.

AudioCodes in the Spotlight at Microsoft Ignite or was I just Dreaming?

It’s one of those movie clichés, isn’t it? Something awesome happens to the star of the movie and he or she can’t believe it. “Did that really happen or was I dreaming?” “Someone pinch me so I know this is real!”

I still go back and read the session summary by Jonathan McKinney, just about every day….   But, first things first…

Microsoft Ignite 2017

Microsoft Ignite 2017

Well, I’m pleased to tell you I had just such an experience only a few weeks ago. I was attending Ignite 2017, Microsoft’s annual conference for developers,  IT professionals and exectives. It’s an outstanding event where we get to hear the latest news from Microsoft (and there was plenty of that this year as I’m sure you heard), as well as meeting up with partners and customers from all over the globe.

During the show, Francois Doremieux, Principle Program Manager Lead at Microsoft held a breakout session called “Customer Testimonial – Learn from Large Scale Skype for Business Voice Deployments”. In this session, four large Microsoft customers – Cargill, Bosch, ZF and BNSF – presented details of their successful deployments of Skype for Business.  These four companies combined have 631,000 employees worldwide.

It was great to hear how these huge organizations had successfully navigated the turbulent waters of Skype for Business migration. What was truly mind-blowing for me was the number of times AudioCodes was named as a strategic vendor partner in these major projects. Whether it was our analog gateways, SBCs, IP phones, management tools or call recording, our entire One Voice portfolio – or individual parts of it – are playing a crucial role in ensuring companies’ transition to Microsoft UC can be achieved smoothly and reliably.

At the end of the session, I joined this elite group up on stage to introduce AudioCodes to the audience and join the panel for the Q&A. Even then, questions from the other Microsoft customers in the audience also referred to AudioCodes as their vendor of choice.

Since joining AudioCodes two years ago, I have enjoyed being at the forefront of voice technology and helping customers and partner achieve their goals. AudioCodes’ One Voice solutions cover virtually any voice need for PBX replacement, All-IP transformation and UC deployments, in particular Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams. It has been a pleasure working with such a great team of experienced voice professionals and R&D teams churning out market-leading products and solutions.

In the course of my work here, I have met a wide range of extremely satisfied customers and yet, to hear our name being mentioned as a key player in the deployments of such a prestigious group of companies and in such a public forum was something to behold.

So was I dreaming? In some ways, it seemed too good to be true. However, I am very appreciative to Jonathan McKinney, a Skype for Business MVP from Time2Market, who summarized the session for Microsoft’s Skype for Business Ignite blog. You can read Jonathan’s blog for yourselves to get a feel for how large organizations are migrating to Skype for Business. If  you need more convincing, you can even listen to the recording of the full session.

I encourage you to read the blog and if you have a bit more free time, listen to the recording. AudioCodes is right there where it matters – a strategic vendor enabling enterprise voice in these large Skype for Business deployments.

So it seems that dreams do sometimes come true!

To learn more about AudioCodes’ solution for Microsoft 365, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, visit our website or contact your AudioCodes representative.

UCA-Blog-IMG

SIP Trunking – Your First Step to a Future-Proof Communications Network

Beginning the Journey to Enterprise Voice Network Modernization

UCA-Blog-IMG

There’s no doubt about it: a huge shift in voice communication networks is well underway, as enterprises move away from PSTN towards IP.

One of the core reasons for this change is that telecom carriers themselves are transitioning from TDM to SIP, in an effort to reduce their equipment’s operating costs, power consumption and footprint, while taking advantage of advances in voice technology. As a result, within a few years, major carriers will simply declare end-of-service on their TDM and ISDN switches.

On the customer side of the equation, market data shows huge numbers of enterprises leaving behind traditional PSTN voice services as they align themselves with the changes occurring in service provider networks. According to a recent report by IHS, 71% of organizations are making the switch to either a centralized or hybrid SIP trunk. In fact, they predict that between 2015 and 2020, the number of SIP trunk connections will have more than doubled, from 20 million to over 45 million.

 

A Meaningful Impact

As a large, distributed enterprise, moving your voice communications to all-IP infrastructure opens up a whole host of significant benefits. Besides the immediate financial benefits, the transition to SIP trunks allows organizations to centralize and consolidate trunks, for optimal utilization and the ability to leverage economies of scale.

While making the move to SIP trunks, you can take the opportunity to modernize and centralize the management and control of your network as a whole, to assure service quality, remove blind spots across the network and improve security. More efficient management will contribute to the reduction of your IT staff’s day-to-day workload, so they can allocate more time towards finding innovative ways of driving further efficiencies throughout the organization.

Now that you are using your existing data network (WAN) for voice communications, and having implemented more efficient call routing, monitoring and dial-plan configuration, your internal and long distance calls can be routed through your IP network to achieve substantial savings. As you minimalize the costs of internal communications across your enterprise and reap the benefits of least-cost routing (LCR), you can expect to reduce your total communications expenses by up to 38% (based on information gathered from AudioCodes’ customer base).

 

The Way Forward

A solution such as AudioCodes’ Universal Communications Architecture (UCA) will allow you to achieve all this, and more. UCA enables large enterprises with multi-vendor communications systems to modernize their voice networks efficiently and cost-effectively. It achieves this by integrating communications silos, connecting with SIP trunk services and utilizing the corporate IP network to optimize call routing.

UCA features AudioCodes’ session border controllers (SBCs), global end-to-end call routing and policy management, and advanced VoIPerfectTM voice optimization technology, enabling the creation of a universal network that offers high voice quality, without having to replace existing communications platforms.

As we have seen, there is much more to all-IP voice communications than just SIP trunks. AudioCodes’ UCA solution enables you begin to derive maximum benefit from the all-IP world today, by delivering a future-proof voice infrastructure that is easy to manage, maintains corporate security and delivers significant capital and operational cost savings.

 

To learn more about AudioCodes’ Universal Communications Architecture click here to download our Beginner’s Guide to Enterprise Voice Network Modernization.

Keep it simple

Deploying Skype for Business: Keeping it Simple

We live in a complex technology world.  A very successful businessman, Sir Richard Branson, once said: “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”

Keep it simple

This statement comes to mind again in the context of our S-S-D pitch for CloudBond 365: Simplification, Standardization and Demarcation, three words that I often use in presentations.

The CloudBond 365 solution provides three pillars: The User Management Pack™ 365 built-in management suite, an Active Directory Connector and an Office365 Connector. This makes CloudBond 365 the spider in the web between Office 365 and the local customer enterprise. The solution provides a fully preinstalled Skype for Business solution on an AudioCodes gateway, server, or virtualization platform in the datacenter, standardized on Microsoft’s resource forest model. CloudBond 365 enables this Skype for Business silo model to be a fully integrated with the enterprise and provide these S-S-D benefits. Of course, User Management Pack™ 365 can also run on top of a fully (self-) deployed Skype for Business environment.

Here are a couple of examples:

From a technical perspective, simplification not only brings value for the initial deployment but also for the years to follow. ‘Simple things’ tend to break less and if they break they’re easier to fix. From a business perspective, professional services can now be enabled for integrating Skype for Business with the business processes of an enterprise.

Standardization is key not only for the deployment phase, but also for the support period in the following years.

  • Support engineers ‘know’ exactly what the architecture is
  • The exact customer environment is always available in the lab to reproduce test
  • Problems and solutions for one customer are now applicable to most other customers as well

If you’re in the business of selling Skype for Business, standardization allows you to offer the solution without assuming the risk of covering potential trouble shooting or ‘unknowns’ within the customer environment. Standardization means there are no projects that are open ended.

The demarcation provided by the CloudBond 365 solution presents a very clear line between the Skype for Business deployment and the customer enterprise environment (in which Active Directories, Exchange, SharePoint, etc. are being managed). There is no need for discussions on SLA and who’s responsible for what. This same demarcation line also helps the business to stay out of competition with the new customer’s current ICT partner and doesn’t require managing two ICT partners within the same network.

Skype for Business designs usually have a complex enterprise setup which can cause projects to become more expensive than at first anticipated.  This complexity can have a major effect on the TCO in the years that follow going “live” with a Skype for Business deployment. The CloudBond 365 solution provides additional simplicity for daily maintenance via the User Management Pack™ 365, an important ongoing benefit to an organization realizing a quicker ROI by means of a lower TCO.

CloudBond 365 is all about simplifying something complex, allowing enterprises to benefit from Skype for Business as much as SMBs.

Sir Richard Branson had it right. Just keep things simple.

Read this Application Note to see how User Management Pack™ 365 really is simplicity in action.

Download-Now

 

Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC

Latest Innovations in Global Cloud Business Communications

Guest post by Mark Dacanay of RingCentral

Just a decade ago, people only considered cloud PBX and IP telephony as cheaper alternatives to legacy on-premise PBX systems and PSTN. Back then, it was mostly small and medium-scale businesses that took note of these cloud-hosted alternative services since large enterprises were already employing top of the line PBX systems customized for their own companies.

Fast forward to 2017. On-premise systems are going the obsolete route while traditional telecom carriers are struggling to keep up with the demands of the ever-connected businesses of today. Nowadays, when we talk cloud communications, we are no longer talking about alternatives or substitutes; when we say cloud communications, we are now talking about the present and future of global business communications.

But what brought cloud-hosted communications to this stage? The simple answer is innovation. By going over the limits of traditional communications services – costs, hardware, scalability, and the like – cloud-based services were able to provide features that simplified business communications.  That includes ground-breaking innovations that has really raised how organizations communicate to a different level such as:

Unified Communications as a Service

The biggest innovation for cloud-hosted communications providers is delivering on the promise of unified communications. From being an empty buzzword to a real concept, it further evolved into a highly implementable service. Today’s cloud communications providers are able to offer different communication channels from a single platform via subscription. To give you an idea, Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) top ranked provider RingCentral is able to offer audio and video conference, team messaging, and business SMS on top of the usual voice, fax, voicemail, and virtual PBX. All in one service.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC

Gartner UC Magic Quardant

 

This removes the need for businesses to get separate providers for each service. Now, one provider is able to meet most, if not all, the communication demands of different organizations.

Open APIs

It is no longer enough for communications service providers to simply be a communications service provider. Enterprises are now looking to customize the service to fit their business needs. Not only that, business communication needs also evolve and the service should be able to have the technological flexibility to adapt every time. This is why the cloud-based approach of open APIs has been a real boon. With open APIs, the cloud communications service is able to integrate with other services bringing about new level of efficacy and efficiency.

There are two ways in which companies are able to take advantage of open APIs. The first and easiest one is through third party integrations. Popular business productivity apps like Salesforce, G-Suite (Google for Work), and Microsoft Office 365 use APIs from cloud communications providers so that their clients are able to use the service within the business productivity app. The second way is through using the APIs to integrate the communications service into the companies’ own internally developed productivity apps, creating a new and unique workflow just for their company. Either way, it allows for a more efficient and more productive workforce.

Mobile apps

The true separation between traditional phone systems and modern cloud communications is the latter’s ability to be accessed through mobile devices through apps.  By creating a mobile app equivalent of their service, either iOS or Android-based, cloud communications providers are able to give businesses and its users a different level of mobility and flexibility that was unheard of before. This paved the way for user-friendly policies that allows users to work away from the office more often or even bring their own personal devices to work (BYOD).

Multi-location setup and administration

What makes cloud communications services a truly viable option for multi-national companies with a global reach, is its ability to be setup and administered from anywhere. Gone are the days when phone systems have to be kept and managed from a singular server room by specialized manpower. Not only that, but a single service can now be used for multiple locations around the world without the need to install new infrastructure and hardware. Some providers even let businesses establish a local presence in different countries by giving them the option to use a local number from different countries. Businesses can now access and manage the service for all their locations and users from their own device as long as they are connected to the Internet. From there, they can add and delete users, grant user and admin permissions, and generally just be on top of how their organization communicates from all parts of the world.

The best part is that cloud communications is still evolving and has not even reached the height of its capabilities. At the rate of how things are going, the cloud will definitely continue to play a big part on how businesses communicate locally or on a global scale.

About the Author

Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with a B2B company offering cloud-based services for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud – the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky. You can reach him through Twitter and LinkedIn .

CCE

Top 10 Reasons to Use AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances

Making Migration to the Cloud Pure Simplicity

CCE

Because of the importance of cutting costs and increasing productivity in today’s fast-moving and ever-evolving world, the lure of cloud communications has never been stronger. However, in spite of the cloud’s numerous advantages, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed, including how to migrate to the cloud while preserving on-premises connectivity with local service providers.

AudioCodes Mediant 800 CCE and Mediant Server CCE appliances rise effortlessly to this challenge, bundling AudioCodes field-proven session border controllers (SBCs) and media gateways into a single elegantly packaged 1U chassis. They seamlessly integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, and are easy to deploy and manage. The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is certified for Microsoft Skype for Business Online and is now shown in the Microsoft product catalog. So let’s have a look at the top 10 reasons why you really should think about using AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances.

  1. A broad portfolio of quality products.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances are made up of well-known, tried and tested products in the AudioCodes portfolio. You can be confident that these Microsoft-qualified platforms will deliver enterprise-grade security and reliability that you can count on, time and again.

  1. Two feature-packed models to choose from, depending on your deployment needs.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances share common functionality but provide different concurrent session capacities, so you can be sure that you’ll find a model that suits your needs. Whatever your business’s size and connectivity requirements, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Very easy to install.

The powerful and intuitive installation wizard is designed to get you up and running in around two hours. No need to bring in a PowerShell expert who will cost you valuable time and money.

  1. Simple to monitor and operate.

An easy to understand dashboard clearly shows you everything that’s happening and lets you configure your Mediant CCE appliance without needing to use PowerShell scripts. In addition, the appliances are natively integrated with the AudioCodes One Voice Operations Center (OVOC), so you don’t have to tie up financial and human resources in developing proprietary monitoring tools.

  1. Easy to update and upgrade.

The AudioCodes wizard and dashboard have automatic Cloud Connector Edition version detection and self-adjustment for forward and backward compatibility. This makes it easy to schedule updates and upgrades, including on a per site basis. Again, all this can be done without ever having to write a single PowerShell script.

  1. The AudioCodes Helpdesk and the Microsoft Office 365 Service Operations Center have integrated support procedures.

AudioCodes is certified by Microsoft to provide support for the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition. This collaborative approach assures that any technical issues that might arise can be dealt with very quickly, bringing you real peace of mind.

  1. Effective High Availability (HA) configuration functionality.

The Mediant CCE appliances support HA configuration, which can be easily set up using the AudioCodes wizard. They also support SBC floating licenses. Importantly, the Microsoft live upgrade process does not negatively affect your service or traffic.

  1. Part of an advanced Cloud PBX Networking Solution.

The Mediant CCE appliances natively integrate with AudioCodes Routing Manager (ARM) topologies, enabling global call routing and policy enforcement to be centrally managed from a single location. The appliances also include support for the One Voice Resiliency (OVR) cloud resiliency solution, bringing you a level of dependability that you know you can rely on.

  1. Cost-effective.

No matter what your capacity needs are, AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances represent excellent value for money. If keeping the cost down is a priority for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

  1. Available on an OpEx pay-as-you-go basis for trials.

The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is included in the AudioCodes Go Cloud offer. Go Cloud makes it simple and risk free for you to trial Microsoft Cloud PBX. You also get 9×5 support, Cloud PBX certified AudioCodes 440HD IP Phones, and IP Phone Manager Express for provisioning. You can stop anytime and just return the equipment. All this for one convenient and transparent monthly fee. What have you got to lose?

 Talk to an AudioCodes expert and discover even more reasons

for choosing AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances

Contact an Expert

Genesys-AudioCodes

Who is Controlling Your Home Agent’s Voice?

At the upcoming Genesys CX17 events (http://online.audiocodes.com/genesys-cx-events-registration), AudioCodes will present, as part of the new Genesys and AudioCodes partnership, an IP Phone combined with a centralized management application that has been specially designed to increase the productivity of work at home agents (WAHA) and deliver a superior level of customer service.

Genesys-AudioCodes

The move towards the WAHA model, also known as the virtual agent model, is currently one of the leading trends in the contact center market. More and more industry leaders are discovering the benefits of the home agent model for their contact center services. Home agent programs offer compelling advantages, including cost reduction and better customer response strategies. Furthermore, this model tears down geographical barriers, meaning that businesses can recruit highly qualified individuals, in practically any location, who will then be available to provide excellent service at any time.

Contact Center Agent

The home agent voice challenge

In spite of the obvious attractions of the WAHA model, its implementation at a technical level is very challenging because the home agents themselves are not an integral part of the contact center’s own private, secure and reliable network.

Instead, home agents typically use their home broadband internet to connect to their company’s contact center. While this unmanaged broadband internet connection is good enough for using desktop web applications and for accessing CRM services, it is far from ideal for real time communication such as voice calls. Broadband internet connections can be unreliable, based as they are on the “best effort delivery” principle, and they have a tendency to suffer unpredictable drops in quality. This can cause poor quality voice transmission and, even worse, disconnections and unavailability – all leading to customer dissatisfaction.

Another problem with the WAHA model is the use of soft phone clients. Unlike standard web browser applications for accessing services such as CRMs and digital channels, soft phone clients are specific applications that need to be installed and configured. Since these applications handle real-time voice traffic, they require significant memory and CPU resources. Performance is therefore very much dependent on the individual agent’s PC and its operating system capabilities, which can in itself be adversely affected by other applications that are running on the PC and consuming resources as well. In addition, maintaining and updating such applications requires remote IT intervention that can be time-consuming and disruptive, causing agents to be offline and therefore unavailable to take customer calls.

Controlling, monitoring and improving the home agent’s voice service

What is needed is a dedicated IP Phone device suited to the specific needs of home agents and fully integrated with the business’s contact center, assuring a high quality voice experience. This will substantially increase the home agent’s productivity and operational efficiency, leading to a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction.

AudioCodes IP Phone

AudioCodes’ IP Phones use VoIPerfect™ voice enhancement technology that delivers high voice quality over any internet connection. This unique technology is based on a monitoring engine that examines and measures voice quality at all times, automatically triggering enhancement tools such as adaptive jitter buffer and dynamic voice quality adaptation if necessary.

The data collected by the IP Phone monitoring engine can be transmitted to a centralized monitoring application, giving a clear picture of everything that is going on in the voice network, right down to the level of individual home agents. Not only can IT managers analyze and resolve potential quality issues before they even occur, they can also remotely manage and automatically configure individual IP Phones without interfering with the agent’s work or running dedicated applications on the agent’s PC.

And last but not least, the monitoring application can also be used to add or remove agents from the agents’ pool based on the quality of their voice service, ensuring that customers will always receive the exceptional level of service that they deserve.

Want to learn more about Genesys and AudioCodes SIP solutions for contact centers? Click here to request a meeting with our experts at the show.

Genesys-AudioCodes

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

If it’s Friday, I’ll Take the Scenic Route Home

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

In my opinion, Waze is the best navigation application in the market today. Actually, Waze is much more than just a navigation app: it’s a community of travelers and commuters who are constantly contributing to form one of the earliest and largest crowd-sourcing platforms. By using on-line navigation data and user notifications, Waze maps traffic jams and sends drivers a variety of notifications including hazardous situations on the road, police presence, and speed cameras.

When it comes to navigation setup, Waze is very much like other navigation applications; the navigation setup is static. The main setup decision related to routing that the user is required to do is choosing between the route with the shortest distance or the one with the fastest time.  In addition, the Waze user can decide to avoid toll roads, highways, ferries, complex turns and dirt roads.

The fact that the setup is static is a real shortcoming, since routing preferences may change during the course of a single day. For instance, in the morning when you’re in a hurry to get to work you might not mind using toll roads. But on your way back home, you might be quite happy to take it easy and go via the scenic route, enjoying the springtime aroma of orange blossom along the way. To achieve this with Waze or any other navigation application, you would need to modify your routing preferences twice a day.

VoIP routing applications suffer from the same issue: how to make decisions based on a variety of criteria. In an ideal scenario where the network is free of any impairments, the main VoIP routing criteria would simply be the cost to the desired destination (i.e. least cost routing). However, in real life, there are so many other competing criteria which need to be taken into consideration, e.g. VoIP delay, VoIP quality, bandwidth, connection health, the time of day, user policy, security, load balancing and call admission control.

Unlike a navigation application, in a VoIP routing application, most of these additional criteria can’t be configured with a simple binary yes or no. For instance, in the case of voice quality, the user would prefer the call to be transported via the route with the best quality while, at the same time, ensuring that the cost is as low as possible.  The same goes for voice delay, signalling impartments, etc. The network administrator would like his calls to take the optimal route, but how can he configure the priorities and weights for these competing criteria?  A tricky problem.

Currently, most VoIP routing applications handle this issue by associating weights to the main routing criteria. This means that the user associates a weight to each criteria giving each criteria a priority.  The routing algorithm takes into consideration the criteria based on their associated weights and calculates the routes accordingly.

An alternative scheme is basing the entire routing calculation on one criterion (usually cost). Any additional routing considerations are applied to the main rule as relevant on a call by call basis.

For instance, all routing rules can disregard VoIP quality in general, but a VoIP quality condition will be applied ONLY when it is relevant, e.g. any calls made specifically to New York must be routed via a high quality connection disregarding the cost.

With this per route association approach, routing rules can get quite complex but since the additional conditions are applied on a route by route basis they are still easy to configure and easy to maintain. Imagine how convenient it would be to be able to configure a routing rule which, for example, determines that calls from the CEO to the New York sales manager on Mondays between 8:00am and 10:00 am must be routed via best quality route. Now try to figure out how to configure the same routing rule using a Waze-like static routing configuration.

I wish that Waze had route options like playlists, aligned with users’ personal moods: happy routes, contemplative routes, romantic routes, routes for birthdays etc., maybe even combined with recommended music per route. In today’s dynamic lifestyle, we can’t rely on a static, generic setup.  We need tools that let us customise our needs as simply as possible, since routing is everything.

 

To find out more about how AudioCodes helps simplify call routing in complex enterprise and service provider VoIP networks, download our white paper today.

Call recording

My Skype for Business Calls Need to be Recorded, Right?

Call recording

Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?

The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.

Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.

Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.

Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.

SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Find out more by visiting our website at www.audiocodes.com/smarttap.

Lifeline providers

Increasing Margins of US Lifeline Providers

How can US lifeline providers reduce their per-minute cost

Lifeline providers

Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called Lifeline, the financially disadvantaged in the US can receive a cell phone and anywhere from 500 minutes to an unlimited number of minutes and texts every month — at no charge! The Lifeline program ensures that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

As of December 2016, lifeline providers are required to provide a minimum of 500 minutes per month and 500 MB per month at 3G speeds. As of December 2017, lifeline providers will have to provide a minimum of 750 minutes and 1GB per month and as of December 2018, a minimum of 1000 minutes and 2 GB per month. The Lifeline program provides a discount (support) on monthly service of $9.25 per month for eligible low-income subscribers.

Increasing minimum service standards

The FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) are increasing the requirements of minimum voice minutes and MB data while reducing the discount on monthly services, meaning that lifeline providers will have to provide more voice minutes and mobile data while receiving less support funds (in US$) from the FCC program.

As of today, a Lifeline provider (MVNO) pays a high wholesale per-minute price (around 1.5 cents) and per 1 MB data price (around 1 cent) to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). As a result of the increasing minimum requirements and high wholesale prices, the lifeline wireless providers are expecting a decrease in margins and ARPU. In addition, the increasing number of lifeline operators offering smartphones instead of feature phones increases the competition even more since offering smartphones makes their service more attractive to eligible consumers.

Reducing per-minute cost

To increase their margins, lifeline providers can offer voice over WiFi and data cellular services as an alternative to MNO’s high cost GSM service. This way Lifeline providers need only buy wholesale data from MNOs without GSM minutes. The new service decreases the per-minute cost by more than 50%. This technology enables MVNOs to offer 4 voice minutes for every 1 MB. Assuming an MNO wholesale 1 MB price is 1 cent, then a 1-minute call will cost just 0.25 cents. Thus, the Lifeline MVNO reduces its per-minute costs from 1.5 cents to 0.25 cents (excluding termination cost).

For a lifeline provider serving 50,000 eligible consumers consuming 500 minutes per month each, having 50% of their calls over WiFi and paying 0.15 cents per-minute termination, the total monthly savings amount to around US$ 300,000.

Lifeline providers may offer the service through low-end, used or refurbished Android-based smartphones to their subscribers or provide it through an OTT app supporting BYOD for iOS and Android-based smartphone devices.

Wifi first does increase margins

AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, a WiFi First wireless solution, reduces the lifeline MVNO per-minute and message costs by over 50%. It enables voice and messaging services over WiFi and cellular data networks, providing seamless interconnections from WiFi to cellular networks and vice versa, a process that significantly extends coverage areas and potentially lowers costs for providers and end-users alike. MobilityPLUS is delivered from the cloud as a service (SaaS) ensuring minimal initial setup and monthly costs, and fast deployment. AudioCodes’ field-proven underlying voice technology assures crystal clear HD voice quality that boost the subscribers’ satisfaction.

Full line of service for mvnos

AudioCodes and its US partners have come up with a complete, cost-effective and innovative service that truly does provide MVNOs and other providers a real competitive advantage in the wireless marketplace

  • White-label voice and messaging over WiFi and data service
  • Customized and pre-loaded into Android OS as an integrated dialer
  • Full support for BYOD, supporting iOS and Android-based smartphones
  • Wholesale voice minutes and messages
  • Wholesale cellular data
  • Integration with billing and CRM
  • SMS-enabled DIDs
  • Long distance termination

To learn more about AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, please contact mobilityplus@audiocodes.com