Posts Tagged: software

VoIP Considerations for IT Decision-makers

VoIP Decisions

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments captured in the article.

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP, according to Andy Abramson, blogger at VoIP Watch and founder and CEO of Comunicano (www.comunicano.com). With this understanding, it’s easy to see that DSL or a cable modem line won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity, notes Abramson. “That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network.”

• “Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase,” Abramson says. An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

 

Why Always Use Call Recording

Call recording and VOIP

Monitor your conversations and diagnose arising problems.

Everyone has called a customer service at some point in his life and been greeted with a message of this sort: “This call MAY be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” Its a white lie as it is not based on a chance. All the conversations get recorded and for a good reason. Call recording is being used to ensure customer satisfaction and monitor employee productivity. And while it can hardly be used as evidence in court it can help refresh the memory of an employee or stubborn client. Today, more and more businesses know the true value call recording and are using it to some extent. The truth is that most Apps for call recording are not integrated in the dialer. And most dialers insist on saving all data on the phone limited memory.

Dispute Resolution

When a customer calls support, he is usually trying to convert, seeking help or reporting a problem. The reason for the call can be from unclear information to customer mistake or simple lack of knowledge or information. Of coarse it can also be because of defect product or simple misunderstanding. In many cases the person conversing on the phone can’t comprehend the root of the problem right away or simply misses some of the provided information. Having a call record allows the tech team or managers to listen to that conversation and diagnose the specific problem. The process slow, time consuming and often neglected but can improve the overall work flow if used for similar cases.

Fosters Growing Businesses

As businesses develop, its not uncommon that they establish offices in multiple locations or start to outsource part of their tasks. It becomes more difficult to manage multiple locations and offices that are located abroad. Call recording than steps in to ease the diagnosing if conversation and conversion problems as well as monitoring of customer satisfaction. It can be done at any location without need of much or any investment.

Productivity

When recording calls the business can make customized call reports based on different factors. Call length, call scoring, and number of calls per employee, time to answer, calls peak hours and even customer satisfaction can be measured. It is even possible to highlight personal calls, leading to better interconnectivity in the company or weeding the employees that tend to make excessive personal calls. Just knowing that you can listen on the conversations your employees will deter from making personal calls, will pay more attention to how they are addressing the customers and refrain from sharing sensitive company information. Overall, the business achieves better productivity and optimizes the use of time and resources.

Where VOIP kicks in

Apart from all the other benefits of VOIP we have already discussed it can really shine when it comes to call recording. VOIP providers have it hard as VOIP is harder to sell and has to bring more to the table. Voice recording is one of those things and it is easier and better than because of the Internet nature of VOIP. Voice recording is provided as free feature and in most cases is embedded in the VOIP servers. That means that the calls are saved a remote server and the you get a link to the media that you can open from any device at any place and any time you wish. As a bonus it does not clog your phone memory and if done right can be used from both office VOIP phones and mobile applications.

Business and Telecommunication

Business requirement of telephony system, perceived from three dimensions, namely hardware, software and as a service.

Telecom sector business trends and changes happening in each generation of telephony. Analysis of next generation telecom business solutions and possible market areas for small and middle business companies.

In its life journey, telephony systems have traveled from plain old legacy systems to an era of advanced stage of Voice over IP communications supported by high-speed internet connection. Telecommunication feature requirement or demand has now moved to such a diversified stage that the business demand-supply chain keeps changing at a very fast rate. Let me to explain this.

As an example: A requirement or demand of a telephony feature like video conferencing is now no longer dependent on a particular way of implementation i.e. not only limited to hardware solution within an enterprise but have also available on mobile as an application software. It means that business solution of ‘video conferencing’ can be achieved via many dimensions like free soft-phone based, license soft-phone based, hardware based, Mobile/laptop based, or even home decor Television based.

This implies that telephony business must have dynamic business model and not sticking to particular solution. Business model must be capable to switch to alternative solutions at any moment. For big players this is not an issue of any concern, but small business players, must pick wisely what kind of telephony system they will use and what their sustainability is. They must think of moving their on-going business with telecom generations of high-speed internet and digitization.

In legacy telephony, business was oriented towards cost of each audio phone call, number of calls, and Local vs STD based calls, as this ware the core services available. Videos call at that time ware among major earning business solutions.

As a generation of telephony moves on, until 2.5 G to 3G, audio and video phone call is like default services and internet based, location based, on-demand or live streaming was on a high demand. At this stage, new business players who forecast this as an era of stating point of next generation telephony service were able to make a lot of money. Many entrepreneur and many small telecom businesses have grown up to support this demand both with hardware, software and as service.

Many software solutions and telephony applications were developed, protocols were defined and universal standards were placed. Businesses grew with software application around audio call, video call, conference, 3-way calling feature, announcement, advertisement service during telephony services. Hardware based solutions also grew in parallel and High-Definition quality were integrated with above listed telephony services. Small business which were software based have grown up and earned much, whereas big players have taken up this as a complete hardware and software solution, by building up of their own networks. Some business also grew targeting services of telephony application, whereas some targeted the support of telephony service, like Analysis and Analytical tools, testing tools etc. Legacy business was on backward compatibility support of these new telephony service.

At present telephony demand has changed a lot in its demand and implementation. From fixed hardware to mobile based app solutions. Business players have also re-shuffled and realigned themselves. Telecom operators are moving ahead to meet the demand with high speed internet solutions with legacy hardly contributing to a small percentage of profit. On other hand telecom R&D organisations / MNC have started working on next generation technology with high skilled human resources. Business players oriented towards software based adhoc service providers are also growing. Businesses are investing more on mobile based telephony solution like whatsapp, facebook, etc . A bulk of small business earning are also centralised around information on public platform and on advertisement. Telecoms are now moving towards IOT (internet of things) and wifi solutions. Hardware independent, time independent, resource independent fast and easy communication is needed with rich functions and high definition quality.

Small business players interested in telecom business must consider these changes in trends of telephony application demand and supply. Changes from fixed dialling system to mobile based automatic voice-recognition based high-speed internet service, must be analysed for any business investments. Legacy telephony in future is not going to last for couple of more years. SS7/ISDN based telephony system is going to vanish from market being replaced by high-speed and wifi solution.

Eventually telecom market is moving towards virtualization system capable fast and easy expansion of resource with change in demand, Big data and their analysis, single click software application supporting telephony functionality, hardware and location independent application and location-time applications. Those small business working on core legacy technology should try an attempt to move towards high-speed internet based telephony feature. Those small business working on hardware based legacy telephony should try an attempt to move towards digitization and integration within next generation hardware systems. Those small business working on services of legacy telephony should try an attempt to move towards adhoc or license free solution with telecom operator. Small business players interested in telecom business as a solution can work on providing mobile based soft-phone solution as a client solution. As side service they can provide VoIP data analytics, new VoIP features or Wifi solutions for middle business players. IOT – internet of thing is another major evolving in telecom sector, which small application and sensor based device communication are in trial, small and middle business sectors can also think towards this dimension of telecom solution. Telecom sector is vast and it depend so each business player’s vision and mission to work upon.

SoftPhones – first steps and installation

SoftPhones

Definition:

The technical term ‘Softphone’ is used for software applications which run on any device (mobile, laptop or desktop), and has telephone like functionality. Soft Phones are used to place VOIP calls which are generally cheaper when making international calls. Most of those applications actually run on hard phones(phones made specially for VOIP purposes) but there are planty also made for mobile and pc. The softphones work similar to any actual phone, with functionalities  like outgoing & incoming voice calls and outgoing/incoming Video calls. They are basically IP based phones, providing VoIP ( voice over IP) functionality, governing protocols such as SIP( session initiation protocol) , or H.323 or SCCP or any other similar proprietary protocol.

Examples of softphones for desktop and mobile:   X-lite, zoiper, Pindo, vChat, Whatsapp , Skype.

Procedure & Functionality :

There is quite a big diversity in soft phones . Some are made to serve the masses, and they are mostly free, while others are business and enterprise oriented with license versions. Softphones can be classified as a type of IP-phone with no hardware. The software supplication of the softphone available based on the OS platform basis Linux, WINDOWs, MAC like X-lite, etc. Following are the procedure steps for setting up the softphone:

  1. Software Installation
  2. License key configuration, if any
  3. Configuration

Procedure

  • After successful installation, License key is entered to within the application of the software to make it working.
  • Few trial version of the softphone are available with limited edition i.e., once softphone installation is installed and running, it bind itself with the PC/Desktop/Laptop MAC address and this information is send to centralised server of the software.
  • This is done to avoid multiple installation of softphone on same machine.
  • Once the tenure of license expire, softphone stops working until license is renewed again.
  • Post License key configuration, desired network and dial plan related configuration is done in order to get it registered with server, which is VoIP server.
  • The IP –address of the system (PC/Desktop/Laptop) is used as the IP-address of the softphone itself.

Functionality

  • Initial configuration of the softphone after installation also involves providing the IP-address of the proxy server which will be anchoring all services of the softphone like registration and call.
  • Softphone does its registration with the VoIP network in which Softphone Address-of-record (AOR) is populated in the VoIP location server database, and now softphone ready to send or received any call.
  • Most common usage of such softphone to test the network functionality.
  • Another usage of such softphone to perform load and stress testing of the network.

On Mobile

In Public network for mobile user: softphone is generally available as a mobile application. The software applications  are uploaded to public server like PlayStore or AppStore, from where the user can download it on his mobile. Most such apps require the user to have stable internet connection to operate (with the exception of Pindo and Rebtel). In the mobile market softphones are dominated by free apps  and there is almost no paid versions.. Following are the procedure steps for setting up the softphone on mobile:

  1. Software Installation
  2. User Profile creation

Procedure

  • Softphone application is downloaded from play-store in a single click and get installed automatically on the supported version of the Mobile OS/Platform.
  • After successful installation, softphone application is brought up on the mobile by a click and user profile is created. Since such softphone is available for public use, hence the user profile creation steps generally involves linking with public social network, like twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc, and name/password, and OTP verification to authenticate user mobile number
  • Upon successful completion of the user profile, installed softphone is available to function as per designed functionality/feature.

Functionality

  • Most such softphones doesn’t require any pre-configuration of network details.
  • The Server/Network details is in build within the software downloaded and ready to use more readily

Future:

If I have to make a bet I would bet on softphones with html based user interface. They are mostly used for commercial purpose like Video-Conferencing, license based conferencing for entrepreneurs, meeting, three-way calling etc. They come with Pay-and-Use functionality, and most of them are based on SIP protocol for session creation and media streaming.

Open Source at a Glance

How to Get Started with Open Source?

Gentle warning

OSS projects aren’t completely related to standards and prototypes. If a present project is adopted, the approach goes straight to the Execution phase. So if a given project is under a really short permissive license, and a group of organizations can choose to supply an extra layer over the project . It is difficult to run an open-source project following a more conventional software development method like the waterfall model. In these standard methods it isn’t permitted to return to a former phase. So be certain you define the undertaking and that you communicate that definition clearly to the remaining portion of the team.

Few rules

  • Open source projects aren’t all community-based.
  • All open source projects have to be hosted on a site that’s accessible to the general public.

Together, an international community can create past the capabilities of any 1 individual. Then again, there are numerous added benefits of open source program. You ought to take advantage of this tool for the very simple reason it makes everything so much simpler for you. In such cases there is not any implicit advantage in using the web. At the exact same time, the usage of open-source software is expanding rapidly, and even commercial software companies often offer open-source licensing choices and opportunities. You can always choose is to develop an in-house solution in which you acquire or employ a group of professionals for the evolution of a customized solution based on your wants and wishes.

The success of Wikipedia and other digital content providers employing open source methodology demonstrates that the open source model proceeds to evolve. And it will probably continue to be a significant part of the digital economy. As a consequence of its open source license WordPress has come to be the dynamic web publishing platform it is today.

Choosing Good Open Source

As a good example, Ramadan 2015 Android App give you all of the 99 allah names at one spot. Any application should have a specific uniqueness which will capture the interest of the users. The application build needs to have some essential features, in other words, it has to be reliable, customizable and serviceable. It should target a maximum number of users so that the business brand will get recognition. For that, a proper advertising is required, so that a growing number of folks are enticed to use the application.

Open source software is normally free, and so is a huge support during the vibrant communities surrounding each bit of software. Open source software may be cost-effective approach to run many forms of programs on your PC. Open source software, on the flip side, is typically not as resource-intensive, meaning that you may run it well even on older hardware.

The development of the web is making a bigger spectrum of projects out there. Open-source program development can be split into several phases. It’s therefore essential to encourage the developers to work together in the development procedure to make sure the organizational goals are satisfied. It’s possible to also hire open source developers from ANGLER at reasonable price. Developers can get the job done directly with Findbugs. Most OSS developers have experienced the should fulfil a specific requirement.

Top open source alternatives to Slack team chat

There are a lot of open source alternatives when it comes to team chat software.

As it is with every team collaborative environment, communication is very important. What software works best in your case depends on your requirements and preferences.
The first collaboration tool that comes in mind is the indispensable team chat. It does not matter if your work colleagues are sitting across the room from you or on the other side of the planet. Communication in real-time makes conversations faster, easier, reducing confusion and misunderstandings.
While some circles still think that chat applications van be distraction. And they sure can be one if not contained. But I believe that if you are committed to your work, you can come to agreement to reel of-topic chats. Creating “general” channels can help loosen up, leading to better work flow. But it is equally important to be able to give yourself the space to work uninterrupted. While writing this article I have three team collaboration tools running in background. Still I keep all my notifications silenced and I check them only when the breaks in my work allow for it.
 
I recommend using an open source tool that is made exclusively for work. I like to separate work from personal communications and that is the main reason for me to try the software listed bellow.
 

Slack

Slack is the corner stone when it comes to collaborative chat software. It is preferred by the software development companies and for a good reason. It is stable, well designed and with all the right options. But Slack is not open source not to mention that it is pay to use. As such it is not very flexible. As a simple example is that you cant self host it. For big companies with lots of sensitive data this is a major turn off.
 
Open source with its access to the code helps you ensure that all communications stay private. Of course I should mention the option to add or remove features to further improve your work flow.
 
Let’s check five open source Slack alternatives. From the classics to brand new applications, for your team’s communication needs.

IRC

An honorable mention. The truth is that it has no place in any modern company. IRC has been around for a while – about 30 years actually, and it has tons of open source implementations.
As always with the age, come the drawbacks. It lacks features that are must for every modern chat. Security and Identity management barely exist (they are implemented with bot services).
 
On the good side, IRC is universal. Both servers and clients are available for every platform you can think of. The interface while not something to brag about is intuitive and fast. And if you have been developing open source, you most probably already installed or used IRC.
 

Let’s Chat

Let’s Chat has a more modern approach to team chat. Its program (also called Let’s Chat) is with MIT license and written on top of the popular Node.js platform. You will find many of the things that are expected of chat client like Slack. Image embeds @mentions, logging and file management. With Let’s Chat you can create chat rooms for every team, or project. It can integrate with your existing authentication servers. This way you can use the same login across all your software in your organization. As an addition Let’s Chat has a nice API that allows it to connect with other tools too.
The program is easy to install and self hosting is not a problem too. You can do it by Vagrant or Docker, or as part of Sandstorm.io. There is an online demo, that does not implement all the features of the project. You can still get the general Idea of the program.
 
 
 

Mattermost

Mattermost is another app with modern approach. It is advertised as private cloud Slack alternative. It is written in Golang with a bunch of JavaScript under the hood of React framework. It supports both public and private chats as well as one on one conversations. It saves archives and is very similar to Slack interface wise. You can find all the expected team chat features. For people switching from Slack there is an import function that will import channels and chat archives.
Sadly as of late only the Team Edition is open source and free.
 
 

Rocket.Chat

Rocket chat is my personal favorite. While it can be buggy at times if you are not using the Rocket chat+ client it is a descent program.
Rocket.Chat is written in CoffeeScript and JavaScript on top of Meteor framework. It is available under MIT license. Like most others it is with descent interface and available for both desktop and mobile. It is feature rich with the only thing that I am missing is the “talk to self” option.
Installation is easy and everything is well documented. The server can be on-premise or cloud based on their servers (paid option). As with most programs now days its available on every viable platform. There is an online demo that you can check.
Rocket.Chat features an online demo, and you can check out its source code on GitHub as well. Rocket.Chat is available under an MIT license.
 
 

Riot.im

Riot.im was one of the less popular chats but things have changed fast. It rightfully sits among the top alternatives of Slack now. Riot has quite a bit of mobile and web tools that connect to Matrix network. Matrix is open network for secure and decentralized communication. Among the functions I should mention its VOIP implementation. Bridge integrations with Slack, Gitter and IRC are available, for easy replacement with the open source client.
 
It is the easiest tool to try since it is web based (both client and host). Riot is licensed under Apache 2.0 license.

Other options

This is my personal favorites list and it is far from exhaustive. I encourage you to try and find a few others before you decide what chat to use.
Don’t take everything written in this list for granted. Lately more and more open source software companies are turning the back on free software. Some time has passed since I used some of the tools above and can I give no guarantee that they are still free or open source.

Voip for blind people – Team Talk 5

Open source Voip for visually impaired!

Team Talk 5 review

TeamTalk is VOIP conferencing system that people use to communicate using VoIP and/or video streaming. The part with video streaming puzzles me as the program has community made of mostly blind people. They can log in with a simple tt document and converse easily with their contacts. The project is open source and using open source solutions for most of its functionality.

Functionality

  • Audio and video transfer with VOIP
  • Public and private channel creation
  • Sharing of desktop aplications
  • File sharing
  • Standalone server

Installation

The TeamTalk 5 conferencing system is composed of a client and hosted server. Most users will just need to install the client application, unless of coarse they want to have their own TeamTalk 5 server.
When installing the application on Windows, the visually impaired users, should install “TeamTalk 5 Classic. It is the client with better accessibility, since the Classic version works smoother with screen readers. There is also a regular TeamTalk 5 client developed for the masses.

Open Source

TeamTalk is a freeware. The program can be found on a lot of popular software websites. Its license permits, to be run on numerous clients or servers, it can be also redistributed free of charge. A permit must be nevertheless bought by developers that want to implement or use the code in third party programs.

TeamTalk client software have been build around the GitHub project TeamTalk5. The TeamTalk server is not part of the project and is therefore not publicly available.

Availability

The TeamTalk 5 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, and the most used Linux distributions – Debian, CentOS, and Raspbian. The server and client applications run on the same platforms. The only difference being that the client additionally supports the mobile platforms of iOS and Android.

Encoding

For voice encoding TeamTalk uses the open source audio and video codecs. For the audio codecs it uses Speex and OPUS. And for the video stream encoding the program is relaying on WebM video codec.