Cloud based telecoms growing in interest
Moving to the cloud
Voice has traditionally been a mission critical service. Time was if a business lost its telephony it might stop trading until the phone lines were back up. Wind the clock forward and businesses have moved to become more reliant on data networks.
By virtue of its very nature a telephone line must inevitably have a person at the end of it to take the call. An expensive form of customer service, prone to errors and very difficult to get staffing levels right. You can’t just hire a person for the busiest hour of the day.
Because of this businesses have tried to move to more digital ways of serving their customers. How many of you pick the phone up to call your bank for example. The experience is not always a good one with long wait times and hard to remember security hurdles to overcome. It is often difficult to find a phone number for a business support line.
Instead businesses want you to rely on their website – ticketing email or chatbots are often the support alternatives on offer. Cheaper and actually sometimes more efficient than telephone support.
The point of this preamble is to observe the fact that business services are increasingly moving online and nowadays when we say online we usually mean the cloud. Think Office 365, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Xero and a host of other commonly used cloud based services.
As A Service growing popular
Businesses looking for business functionality, a piece of software or a service, nowadays often don’t even consider solutions that require the installation of servers. Servers need hardware, they need maintaining and they need someone to do all this.
I started this post by talking about voice. It is at least five years since Netaxis sold or installed our last appliance. Our solutions quickly became software only running on Virtual Machines. Now we are seeing another sea change in our business. Our offered commercial options now include outright purchases of lifetime software licenses (Capex) and the rental of software licenses (Opex). In 2021 we have added As A Service packages.
The popularity of As A Service has to some extent caught us by surprise. After all we are talking mission critical voice services here. Even though all our solutions are designed to be High Availability services with geographical diversity our telco customer base is traditionally a conservative one. Slow moving, careful. The costs of rolling out new services used to be so high that telcos couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes. So they took their time.
The software glue
Out there in the big wide world their customers have been taking a different view. New cloud native market entrants such as 8×8, Ringcentral, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom to name but a few are disrupting the telecoms world, stealing the traditional telco customer base with low cost easy to use services.
Telcos are responding. The need to move away from cumbersome custom software stacks has long been recognised. The maturity of API technology has helped. Every software function has an API these days. APIs let you integrate functions into larger ecosystems. An API is the software glue that turns an individual piece of functionality into an integrated and important element of a system. APIs make the sum of the parts greater than the whole.
APIs are an inherent part of every piece of software we build at Netaxis. Our fastest growing product is called APIO – API Orchestrator. The number of software products used by our customers in conjunction with APIO is well into double figures: southbound equipment gateways and connectors and northbound IT such as customer portals, CRMs and Billing Platforms.
Customers use APIO because it makes life easy for them. APIO is used to automate systems and processes, simplify customer onboarding and provisioning, remove the need for human intervention even and thereby making big operational cost savings.
Back to the cloud
What’s all this got to do with the cloud I hear you say? Well our enlightened customers who have benefited from using our API rich products are now latching on to the reality that their move into the cloud is the next step. After all the cloud native services referred to in this post, our customers’ competitors have already made the move with great success.
When we pitch for new business in 2021 we are as often as not asked to offer As A Service options for our solutions. At a time where engineering resources are at a premium the notion of signing up to a service that requires no engineering resources from the telco side begins to have its attraction. This is true right across the patch. In smaller operators there may only be one person employed in the business to manage and run the voice platform. In such cases the outsourcing of engineering functions is a no brainer.
Even in large telcos the idea of having to manage an estate of hundreds, if not thousands of servers all of a sudden makes As A Service propositions very interesting. We have one customer who in 2021 is in the process of procuring thousands of servers to replace their aging estate. This is probably the last time they will do this.
“But isn’t the cloud less reliable than an on premise alternative?” I hear you say again. After all voice is still mission critical even if companies’ reliance on just voice as a medium to manage their business is diminishing.
Of course you are right, but only about the mission critical bit. Cloud based telecoms networks are these days designed for enhanced High Availability. Think diverse VPN connectivity, geographic cloud diversity and hybrid design.
Cloud-based As A Service
Customer interest in our cloud based telecoms infrastructure services has been surprisingly easy to find. This should not have come as a surprise as the business benefits are immense: improvements in efficiency, productivity, simplicity, profitability, take your pick. Whether you are a globally recognised telco brand or a smaller provider operating in a single country you are left free to focus on what is important to your business without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.
From a Netaxis perspective the benefits to our own business of being able to provide our customers with cloud based As A Service offerings are equally significant. All of a sudden our market opportunity opens up. We can more easily sell to a huge array of smaller service providers who might not previously have considered our products due to the capital expense involved or who didn’t have the internal resources to manage the solution.
When you move a product into the cloud you move into a low cost on demand world that is far easier to setup and access and where new customers appear as if from nowhere because they have signed up online and started using your services.
These are exciting times to be around Netaxis. This post is the first in a series where we will be discussing our move into cloud based telecoms and looking at some of the services we are providing. Stay tuned.