[VoiceOps] 2015 Softswitch

Rob Dawson rdawson at force3.com
Wed Oct 28 13:50:30 EDT 2015

To be fair, what you are describing is not really a softswitch but a suite of applications that happens to be built around a switching platform. There are some vendors that handle parts of this well, Cisco HCS can provide a full UC&C suite including call control, multi-party video, IM&P, desktop/content sharing, delivers it all through the same Jabber interface on your desktop, phone, or tablet and has a beautifully simple user portal, at least in 10.x and up. Broadsoft has UC-One which provides basically the same feature set through a unified interface, though the portal is lacking.

When it comes to some of the ancillary services though, it doesn’t make sense for a solution vendor to start looking at developing a full fax or call recording solution when RightFax and Hylfax, and whatever else already exist. Most of them stick to what they are good at – call control and features. If they need to provide video they buy a company, Tandberg for example. They want to add desktop sharing, buy WebEx. This is how Broadsoft acquired most (maybe all?) the constituent components of UC-One as well.

If you start looking under the hood at any of the SPs that you mentioned I would venture to say that you would find a bunch of discrete systems, Broadworks or Asterisk for call control and features, Hylafax or Right Fax for faxing, an open source SMS gateway, etc. with a bunch of “glue” tying them together via APIs and a bespoke user interface to present a unified view to the customer, all tied into the providers BSS/OSS systems.  That “glue” and UI is what is unique to each SP and is what turns a pile of boxes into a “solution”. It also allows you to add features and functionality easily when the next great app comes along, and prevents you from being tied to any one solution vendor. Hylafax doesn’t work out? Trash it and switch to XYZ fax, your custom UI obfuscates the change from the customer and they never know.

I’ve said this before, 99% of all Broadworks shops sell the same exact product. Whatever comes out of the box, with the crappy BW portal, using Polycom phones but taking no advantage of any of the advanced features that are available. I really think that in the next few years that providers who are not offering a full UC&C experience for their customers and not doing anything to differentiate their products will start faltering. That innovative product suite is what providers will need in order to be competitive in the future.

Let’s be honest, If you and I both sell Broadworks and you have a feature pack called “Premium” and I have one called “Executive” but they offer the same features and the only difference is price, then we are fully commoditized and can only compete on cost. Providing more services to your customer than your competitor is able to adds value and provides stickiness. Having a unique and differentiated product allows you to move the conversation away from cost, and towards the value that you can bring your customer.

All that being said, I think you have a great list of features and an a good start because you are looking to model some of the companies that are already doing this successfully. I do think that you are asking too much if you are looking for a sole sourced solution.  But, if you have the time, capital, and people you can certainly go out and find the best of breed for each component and then integrate them into your own unique platform.


From: VoiceOps [mailto:voiceops-bounces at voiceops.org] On Behalf Of Colton Conor
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:55 AM
To: voiceops at voiceops.org
Subject: [VoiceOps] 2015 Softswitch

I am still on the search for a 2015 grade multi-tenant soft-switch. Something that can compete with Vonage Business, Switch.co, and other newer innovative phone services.

 Here are the requirements I am looking for, so if anyone knows of something that fits this bill please let me know:

1. Has the ability to support SMS and MMS already. I am tired of so many softswitch vendors saying they are adding SMS or MMS as a coming soon item. It is 2015 people. SMS has been around since as long as I can remember. Most of the large wholesalers (bandwidth.com<http://bandwidth.com>, Level3) support SMS, and some are supporting MMS. Not only should the softswitch support it, but they should have some way to allow the user to send and view these messages.

2. Supports call recording on both the inbound and outbound side. Should be able to see call recording through the web interface. Web interface for overall platform should be user friendly, and hopefully HTML5 based.

3. Supports Music on hold where you can upload multiple files. It can play these files in random order like a radio station.

4. Supports the OPUS codec and VP8 for WebRTC capabilities. Hopefully already has WebRTC capabilities.

5. Has a device provisioner where we can modify the XML files for each device at the global, group, or seat level. So many of our customers have special needs, and a one size fits all device template simply will not cut it. We should be able to reboot phones remotely, and push firmware.

6. Built in faxing support.

7. Voice Quality Monitoring built in. Should show MOS scores, Jitter, Packet Loss, for each call through the platform.

8. Busy Lamp field integration.

9. Some sort for mobile integration (beyond just call forwarding) for mobile employees who don't want a desk phone. This can be apps for smartphones, or something else. Most vendors say well our softswitch is SIP compliant so you can use the 1000's of apps that support SIP already. That will not cut it.

10. All the advanced features one would expect out of any modern hosted PBX offering. Auto attendants, call forwarding, time of day rules,  voicemail to email, etc..

Does this simply not exist and I am asking for too much? Each of these are things my clients are requesting for.

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