Carriers and ITSPs offering VoIP and other IP-based communications services are multiplying like bunnies these daysand have been for the past several years. Are these all organizations with the deep engineering expertise needed to craft a workable IP communications operation? If not, where are they coming from?
To arrive at least part of the answer, let's step back a pace.
In the two or three years leading up to the dot-com meltdown of 2000, a new approach to selling technology was taking root. Back then, it typically went by the acronym ASPfor application service provider. Today, in its resurgent form, it goes by a variety of names, including software as a service (SaaS), outsourced [whatever] service, hosted and/or managed service, and the like.
Recently, we talked with VoIP Logic, a company that puts together ASP-like offerings for carriers and other organizations that want to sell voice over IP and related services. The Massachusetts-based company adds an interesting twist to the modeland the nomenclature.
"We are an outsourced systems integratorreally the modern version of the systems integrator," VoIP Logic CEO Micah Singer told VoIPplanet.com "We provide VoIP infrastructure to service providers around the world from hosting centers in New York and London, Hong Kong, LA, Frankfurt, and Miami."
Essentially, VoIP Logic has built a toolkit from which virtually any kind of custom VoIP business can be assembled from standardized parts.
Singer explained that there is a core set of functionalities from which any VoIP operation can be put together, no matter how the service details or business model are set up. VoIP Logic has picked a key technology partner to cover each essential component. "What we've done is looked at a few of the leaders in each categoryauthentication server, features server, unified messaging server, billing serverand chosen one and dubbed it best of breed," Singer explained. (VoIP Logic's principal technology partners include Cisco Systems, Sylantro Systems, Iperia, NexTone, Convergence, Highdeal, and IVR Technologies.)
Singer went on to point out, however, that, while there were technology providers that equaled VoIP Logic's chosen partners in overall quality and robustness, there was another key factor involved in the choice:
"We realize that BroadSoft makes a pretty solid feature server" [whereas VoIP Logic works with Sylantro]; "IPUnity makes potentially as good a unified messaging system as Iperia" [which VoIP Logic uses]; "but we look at the APIs on these systems. Each category of system we deploywe have to integrate it into Cortex."
Cortex®a scalable, purpose-built middleware platform that facilitates the integration, management, and provisioning of these componentsis VoIP Logic's secret sauce and an important key to its success. (The company recently celebrated bringing its 125th customer, OneStream Networks, online.)
The advantages to customers are many. Perhaps heading the list is flexibility. "Some service providers come to us for systems," Singer said "NexTone integrated with Sylantro, sayand some come to us for solutionssuch as prepaid Class 5. They come in all forms." Whether the conceptual point of departure is technical or service-centric, VoIP Logic can accommodate.
Then there is a standard litany of selling points for ASP-like solutionsall of which seem to apply to VoIP Logic:
- Accelerated time to market
- Low capital expenditure
- Automatic, effortless technology updates
- Minimal management responsibility and technical staffing requirements
Last, but not least, is what the company describes as "a clear cost structure." Customers are, in effect, subscribers to VoIP Logic's hosted, managed services. Cost is a predictable, known factorand proportional to services rendered.
All in all, the offering seems to be working well.
"The global hosted VoIP service market passed the $2B mark in 2006 and is growing at more than 30 percent each year," said Infonetics principal VoIP analyst Stéphane Téral. "VoIP Logic's flawless execution on behalf of service providers has allowed the company to ride this tidal wave and become a key player in the VoIP industry."