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For most of us who grew up in the telecom industry, management protocols like SNMP, TR-69, and Command Line Interface (CLI) have been for many years the only management protocols we’ve known and used on telecom equipment.
Well guess what? Similar to what happened to some telecom services that were replaced by Web apps (for example SMS replaced by WhatsApp), so are legacy telecom management protocols being replaced by Web management protocols, led by REST.
But REST is more than just another way to manage telecom devices. Being a dominant API in Web technology, REST serves, among other things, as a bridge between Web applications to telecom devices which were previously isolated in their own ‘telecom’ domain.
Linking these two worlds yields new services which were not previously possible.
For example, today an SBC can be connected to a CRM web application (i.e. Salesforce.com) and allow an employee to place a call to his customer by clicking the contact’s name on the CRM web GUI (this may also involve WebRTC).
Some words on how REST works. REST (or RESTfull API as it is sometimes called) is used to manage and read the status of a remote device. It uses HTTP as its transport layer and in most cases the message payload uses ‘JSON’ structure.
JSON is a human-readable format, which makes it possible for anyone to inspect these messages.
Besides the great synergy that REST brings by linking the Web and Telecom worlds, REST in itself has important advantages over the legacy Telecom management protocols that make the development process easier for the 3rd parties integrating with the API. Unlike SNMP and TR-69, REST is, as said, human-readable. Thanks to HTTP, REST easily traverses firewalls – a problem which SNMP and CLI may face. REST also does not require identical schemas (data structures) to run on both managing and managed devices in order to talk to each other, which simplify its maintenance. REST is also secure as it can run over HTTPS while security on the legacy protocols is complex.
Lastly, REST is a stateless API unlike CLI (which is both statefull and unstructured). REST statelessness makes it easier to implement.
AudioCodes, which has always been a firm believer in open standards, is investing heavily in REST. Our soon to arrive next major SBC release, will have an impressive set of REST APIs with which our partners are already working to create innovative new applications. Stay tuned.