Heres the answer to: Whats next after flying pigs? Its history in disguise: An open communications network enabled by applications. Applications that solve real business problems. Where the apps drive the network, not the other way around. Where speeds and feeds are simply the substrate and the value-add is software.
The point? Its computer telephony that enables this brave new network. IP makes iteasier owing to its far-reaching adoption and universality. But IP is not software. Its just a protocol.
The big secret that wanna-be conference producers havent grasped? CT is making open communications even better. Cheaper. Faster. Accessible. And not surprisingly, history is repeating itself.
Dumb Switch Phoenix
Imagine the power of writing a software application for a particular industry vertical. Take outbound telemarketing for newspapers. Or intelligent payphone routing for road
warriors. Wouldnt it be great to actually control the switch matrix? I mean completely outboard state control, so whatever switching, prompting, conferencing, etc., scenario you could dream up would work?
Its what Teledirect, Summa Four (now Cisco), Excel (now Lucent), Dialogic (now Intel) and many others have sold for over a decade. And what the likes of Mitel, Intecom, Inter-Tel, NEC, Siemens, AT&T (Lucent), Nortel, and others have sought to achieve with a melange of command control
links and in-skin solutions to open their switches. All valiant efforts. All being re-invented with Internet-enabled switching and PC-based switching today. But true dumb switches have always had the upper hand in flexibility.
Lets face it, if Lucent and Cisco thought dumb switching were dead, why the big-buck purchases of Summa Four and Excel? Huh? Fact is, dumb switching isnt dumb at all. Its liberating. And now, with an IP spin on the out-of-band
command and control of switches, the so-called dumb switch is getting the last laugh.
So whats the future? More application-based switching. More solutions-driven business applications that demand that the network itself (and the associated switches AND routers) remain as dumb as possible. Where are the smarts? In application servers, gateways, personal terminals, and enterprise data stores. In the apps you control where it should be.
Ross (ASP) Perot
applications so expensive, small and medium sized companies would never be able to afford them. Now imagine the brilliance of hosting these applications centrally and allowing companies to access them over a network. No capital equipment outlay, no maintenance. Instant updates on software. Power to the little people!
If you were a good little venture capitalist, youd invest in one of these new-fangled ASPs (application service providers). Hello? Anyone ever heard of timeshare? Remember the
disco-crazed 70s? Remember SNA, the slow packet switched network?
Its simple. Each time a cool technology, or even a new spin on cool technology comes around (like CRM and unified messaging), the inevitable route is for the applications to be manifest on a service bureau basis for small and medium sized companies. Then, Moores law kicks in and the technology is re-packaged as CPE. And eventually it trickles down so almost any enterprise can own their own.
No big secret
here. Out of the $1.3 trillion the ITU (International Telecommuni-cations Union) says makes up the telecommunications market, two thirds is in services. So more of us are considering hosted applications. Bright vendors are adapting. Take Oracle and Siebel Systems. Pretty obvious, historical trend. But just like the mini-computer revolution and PCs gave timeshare a kick in the pants, open source software will probably do the same to the timesharing re-tread we call ASP.
look at the WAP (wireless application protocol) idea. Here, your cell phone doubles (quadruples?) as a pager, a phone, an e-mail terminal, and a browser. Context-sensitive screen/key combinations let you scroll through stock picks, banking transactions, etc. all through a WAP gateway that converts HTML into WAP-able vectors to your cell phone. Very cool.
What is it really? A mobile version of the old BellCore ADSI (analog display services interface) spec. The idea was to put the ADSI-aware
algorithms into IVR applications so if anyone called a bank-by-phone application from an ADSI phone, all of the context-sensitive screen stuff would jump up on to the display...
So why did we barbecue the flying pig? Once and for all: The switch vendors get it. The pig was a tease to get them stoked about CT. Now they are producing thrilling apps using IP, web-based call centers, unified messaging, etc. Behold the re-invention of dumb switching and cool CT apps from yesterday. CT is here