Monday, 10 October 2011

2: Introduction to Cloud Telephony - What is a Cloud Telephony PaaS?

If you are intrigued by Cloud Telephony, you might be asking yourself a number of questions. Those questions are likely to include: “What is meant by a Telephony Platform as a Service (PaaS)?” “Is it for me?” “When and why would I use a Telephony PaaS?” “What are the Telephony PaaS options?” Read on for some answers…

In summary, a PaaS could be a server system or it could be a computer language interpreter that enables bespoke applications to be written and deployed.  The main benefit being that you can access ‘tools’ to help write and deploy an application, based on technology owned and managed by someone else. 

PaaS is different from Software as a Service (SaaS) in that there is no pre-written, configurable application.
It’s more of a service creation environment, whereby you get access to the tools/resources you need to build a particular type of application – the purpose of which is to deliver services for which your customers (subscribers in old money) will pay.  A Telephony PaaS allows you to write your own telephony application and connect it to the PSTN, without having to purchase telephony cards or software. 

Is it for me? Does it speak my language?
On one level, cloud computing is all about making things easier and cheaper.  It’s no different with a Telephony PaaS.  One of the most provocative or disruptive elements that Telephony PaaS offerings have brought to the telecoms market, is that telephony application development is no longer a black art, with only a limited number of developers having the skills required to build applications.  Now, thanks to the provision of APIs in high-level programming languages, just about any developer can get to grips with building IVRs or voicemail – in days, not months.  

I can see a telephony PaaS offers some great benefits but…
…when and why would I use it? As per an earlier blog on different cloud types, if the thought of storing critical, personal or sensitive information in a place that to all intents and purposes is completely out of your control makes you feel a tad uneasy – you’re not alone.  The good news is that with a Telephony PaaS you don’t have to jump in at the deep end…

…Poke your head in the clouds
One option is to run your application on a local machine, managing and executing your code under your own control. As that is running locally, you can use whatever additional libraries, files or database you want.  The key point is that this data, and indeed the business logic contained within your application, is deployed on premise or in a private data centre. It’s just the telephony engine (platform) that sits in the cloud.
 
What is the alternative? Creating a virtual solution
There is also the option to place the business data and logic into the cloud, on Amazon EC2 or Rackspace, for example, alongside (virtually speaking) the telephony server. It’s a bit like having your own private Telco, running on your behalf and under control of your application, but fed and watered by a Concierge. If you want to change things, you can replace or update your application remotely.
 
Cloud telephony platforms provide a cloud-based service or application creation environment.  Coupled with the availability of high-level programming languages, a telephony PaaS, compared to traditional technology deployment options, can reduce cost, speed up development time and offer customers flexibility in terms of their cloud migration.

Faye McClenahan
Aculab Blogger

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