Fonality Down For Several Hours

fonalityWe’ve been hearing that Fonality was down for several hours this week and offered no support to customers. Were you affected by this? We’d like to help.

Bicom Systems products piece together natively to form and grow turnkey telephony entities including Service Providers, CLECs, governments, ITSPs, and more. Bicom Systems takes unified communications to the next level by providing not only software and hardware, but also support and advice based on years of experience, ensuring a complete telephony solution from start to finish.

We will also provide a transition roadmap to assist with the process of upgrading from another provider.

Sign up today and ask for a call from a dedicated and experienced Account Manager. Or email us at sales ‘a1′  bicomsystems d01 com

If you don’t want to feel alone in this process, please feel free to ask for references and not least how much money was saved!

How do ‘all your pieces’ fit together to become a Phone Company ITSP ?

Probably the question that is not asked but always answered when making an introduction of Bicom Systems’ Products is the one in this title.

With so many pieces it is rather understandable why confusion may arise and yet having explained this many times now, recipients reply unanimously with confirmation that it all makes sense. For this reason it seemed only appropriate to write it down and make some other supporting diagrams and videos that really demonstrate the turnkey nature of all these pieces.

Quite simply, Bicom Systems can deliver the most turnkey telephony company with the most features and functions on the market.

We start with our platform, SERVERware. SERVERware comes in two editions, SERVER Edition and NETWORK Edition. See links for supporting diagrams.

SERVERware provides virtualisation and redundancy. In the SERVER Edition the virtualisation means that many application services can be set on the same server, The Primary Controller. These may include : PBXware MultiTenant or Call Center PBX Editions, TELCOware or other items such as Email Server, Web Site a vanilla Asterisk or Trixbox or FreePBX even. Each is contained within its own Virtual Private Server (VPS) and as such

The Server Edition can then in turn be set to mirrored redundancy, using a Secondary Server, so that should the Primary Controller Server fail the Secondary takes over.
Although similar options exist with VMware, Serverware uses Virtual Servers and so the voice quality is best served by keeping the voice traffic on the CPU rather than in a virtualised manner. Serverware also has added security features such as being set in the CHROOT and ………………..

In the Network Edition, the roles of the original two servers change. Firstly all application services are now present on dedicated hosts. The Controller is then freed to perform two functions: duplicating data from the hosts to its own hard disks and monitoring the hosts that in the event of failure of a host that the services on the lost host will be reallocated to the next available host. As the cluster expands the duplication of data may be performed to a SAN.

The Primary Controller is mirrored to a Secondary Controller so that should the Primary fail the above two functions will continue.

Typically in an ITSP scenario one of the application services in its own VPS will be the Multi Tenant Edition of PBXware. It is here that the core telephony takes place from registrations to enhanced services and telephony billing that rates CDRs.

Then on another VPS may be a Call Centre PBX Edition of PBXware if a customer has a dedicate requirement. Often with Call Centers there is a need to access the MySQL database, run detailed reports and thrash CPU with Call Recordings, as such resource needs to be identifiably dedicated. This way a heavy usage call center can latter be moved to its own resource or indeed even for its component part be split to dedicated servers.

If a provisioning platform such as TELCOware be used then it too will have its own VPS on either the server or network edition of SERVERware. The provisioning starts with the CMS (Content Management Systems) creating a web site where visitor can peruse hard and subscirptions products created in the Shopping Cart Products & Services with a view to ordering. To place orders visitors must sign up and create an Account.

TELCOware does not have any real telephony, everything is virtual. After receiving an order it uses API to send instructions to PBXware to provision the service, registrations, DIDs, IVRs or similar. There are wizards in place to assist with this.

According to the subscription bought it will then generate an invoice at the end of the period which will reflect the subscription and any extra call spend made, drawing CDRs from the switch it is associated with. This could be one or many PBXware or even another system, Asterisk based or not.

Upon the invoice being settled by manual payment or automated with a supported gateway such as worldpay, authorize.net, linkpoint, paypal, skrill … funds will be attributed first to the subscription and then if available to the call spend fund on the telephony account on the associated softswitch.

In addition to these products, Bicom Systems also has a wide variety of supporting Desktop Applications which continue the turnkey theme through to the End User and allowing your ITSP effort to simply have what others do not and stand out from the competition.

Please feel free to look through the supporting material, however nothing quite compares to an online demo and please do ask for Account Manager, the linking piece, to contact you in your language of preference (English, Spanish, French or Portuguese). As well as the architecture there is a whole lot of other advice to be provided and Marketing Materials and Support.

Invitation to a Multi-National

Here was a recent pitch to a Multi-National : you may wish to adopt to your own purposes:

I was passed your details by Fierce Voip. Possibly you were looking at our how to become an ITSP whitepaper.

If you can elaborate your interest I should more than happy to provide as service.

For our part, we were the first company to take Open Source Telephony Engines and deliver turnkey products. Increasingly the work is for running large hosted service provider models. The largest so far is 50,000 subscribers for ******. Yes ! Even the phone manufacturers use us !

By the nature of the technology it would be a lot simpler and controlled, never mind cost effective for an organization such as ******* to put in place ‘one large softswitch system’ but with multiple location redundancy to deal with natural disaster & acts of terror.

This of course beckons the question if ‘one’ system can cater for all possible needs of such a diverse organsisation. Any simple declaration of a perfect system is naive. What we have been able to do at Bicom Systems however is provide ‘best-fit’ custom development for the cost of ‘off-the-shelf’. A simple example for NASA was to design a conference facility that permitted the administrator to listen to twenty conference simultaneously while accessing 600 contributors around the world to pull in.

Let me know your interest and doubtless I can contribute further.

Regards

Steve

Why should we choose PBXware MultiTenant PBX vs IPSMARX Multi Tenant PBX? (Part I : Limitations)

It is always with caution that one should speak of competitors and their products when clearly they are better able to do so themselves. All the more so with IPSMARX, given how IPSMARX has positioned itself ‘as’ Bicom Systems. I have though wondered more and more why they do so up against PBXware MultiTenant PBX. Here are some reasons that might help with understandings:

I am demanded to reply to this question orally on a weekly basis and it seems only right to write. Curious about this question too is the clear circumstances in which it is asked. These can be described in three categories: i) Existing users of IPSMARX’s Multi-Tenant PBX who have had reason to look further ii) New Providers looking to start a business line with little resource iii) Well established businesses either ITSPs, VARs or Long Established Sellers of Phone Systems.

For the first group, customers have dial tone. However the Service Provider’s hands are now so filled with the running of their business that the cost of keeping the system becomes all consuming. Very noticeable is with how few extensions on the system and the pain threshold seems to bite. So often, fewer than 100 subscribers – a pocketful of customers. A customer wants a Queue, a Conference, an IVR… then “surely this should need no more effort than a check-box selection to solve everything from the feature’s creation to the monthly invoice going out ?” Surely it should not need custom programming from the switch provider for each small tweak? There also are issues of support. Again the sheer stress that happens once ‘real customers’ come on board and previously naive dreams are exposed. Answers need to be found immediately both to ‘how do I do x,y,z ?’ questions and less often bugs or critical failings. Increasingly the need for integration to the desktop is a make or break to getting End User businesses.

Whether in the form of onsite systems from the Traditional Vendors or the large Internet Telephony Service Providers often using Broadsoft platforms the market at large expects standard offerings to have presence, chat and more at the finger tips. Mobility is next. Not just a breeze blowing softly but rushing winds. A simple SIP client is not where the world will be. Mobility means the user should be an integral part of the local switch.

What has also been learned through the school of hard knocks is problems that the next customer wants something unique. You never quite know what and unless the system is inherently flexible you will be left just listening to the screams. For some though there is the matter of scalability. To simply ‘add another server’ and ‘stick on another few hundred customers’ is not enough. All the customers need to be brought together in a single interface to be found easily and redundancy needs to be in clusters often with the options of dual location.

If you found this useful or can add please feel free to post, Parts II (Cost of Entry) & III (It has to work and it has to do more) are to follow and of course our whitepaper on How to Start an ITSP.

Other Articles on IPSMARX:

Thirdlane vs PBXware (Part II : Cost of Entry)

thirdlaneThe idea that Thirdlane is more cost effective or at least cheaper than PBXware is the single largest misconception that we have to deal with when customers are considering a choice between Thirdlane and PBXware MultiTenant with its softswitch capability.

To be clear, this is an issue confined uniquely to VoIP Entrepreneurs starting new businesses and facing many unknowns of how much market they will obtain. For Old Hacks, who have a little more certainty of their markets, revenues & ROIs, the issue has long passed onto minimising the pain of managing a real business and getting the features that matter to customers.

Curiously the point at which this turn seems to take place – is so low. 100 extensions and the burden of managing the Thirdlane platform appears to have overwhelm Service Providers. Suddenly the original Investment that will never be recouped is gone. References available.

Here are some, well actually many, items to consider about costs. Combined we really do believe you will come to the agreement that notion that Thirdlane costs less, simply is not true:

  • ASSUMPTION that because PBXware MultiTenant PBX has more features in a professionally orgnaised manner – “it simply must be a greater cost– just because PBXware has more features and functions that does not mean it must be a more expensive product. Our business model is based around ‘Starting Partnerships’. We wish to work with those who have the local presence to take us further faster and will gladly work with you to get you started in your endeavour. Increasingly we have many more products that can be put through distribution channel to help us both build later business.
  • The wish to get started at the lowest “base” becomes blinding. Almost as above but we have time again seen Start-ups so preoccupied with their status of ‘starting out’ that they seem almost compelled to try to ‘associate’ themselves with the most barebones infastructure they can possibly find. Even though options are available for no more cost and possibly less cost that would provide them a base to reach to the stars and have in place the necessary architecture and structure that their businesses might move forward.
  • Bicom Systems simply has more : if you start to add up the options that Bicom Systems has : Telcoware Provisioning Platform, Integrated Telephony Billing, Desktop Applications, Call Center PBXs … then the total will increase. Like for like to ‘just the Thirdlane’ multitenant pbx product to PBXware … PBXware’s entry offer can be less upfront capital to get started !!!
  • Future Proof 1: Once your first server is filled, how to then expand the network in a seamless manner so that it is clear where each customer registration group is being kept.
  • Future Proof 2: The investments needed to stay in this market are not decreasing. Mobile Integration, Desktop Integration, CTI, Alarm Monitoring, Call Center, Video … each need dedicated teams and to sustain this requires large revenues that are only possible with the distribution of large systems.
  • Marketing : Any new business needs marketing material and ideally support in generating business. Bicom System provides extensive marketing material at source to its partners as well as market research and suggestions of positioning. Through case studies and internet marketing we have also been able to promote partners.
  • Support : Bicom Systems does not charge $175.00 / hour for support, it is a flat rate, unlimited support. $175.00 is of course no money at all to a startup ITSP‘if you assume you do not need support’. If however it is after your exisiting budget is eaten up and the customer is screaming at you and … that customer is paying you $20 per month, the problem takes six hours to solve, then … suddenly … you don’t even have a business model and all the investment to date is beginning to look like sunk costs.
  • And then what … : it does not start and stop with getting a bit of software. The whole operation of running an ITSP raises questions. Not least ‘what the next customer wants’. Bicom Systems Account Managers exist to advise on that next customer and if necessary provide custom work.
  • Telcoware : The customer comes to your web site, they choose their subscription, enter their details, the monies are taken, the account is provisioned, the order is sent to get the phones out in the post and you are still in bed. Not yet ready for this dream, possibly – but it would be good to know it is ready for you when you are.
  • Making a Quick Decision does not mean Making a Bad Decision : as said above – Bicom Systems simply can give more either today or as your business grows. We are very used to getting you started. We implore you, take a breath and let us do what we do best and find you a way to have the best platform from which to move forward. It may just save you from putting all your savings down sunk, then spending the next two years trying to work back to the same start position through agony, before having the investment to start again.
    If the words seem harsh – the references are available.

So what is the answer ? No idea  :) until we talk to you and get to know your business fully and properly.

For those reading this looking for further reading, you may wish to try : How to Start an ITSP

Read the first part of this series here.

UPDATE 12/12: We reviewed the Thirdlane website again in hopes to update this post. Unfortunately the only update to their website is the removal of their prices.

Other posts on Thirdlane: