Open Source Will Drive Telecom Innovation: Telestax’s Restcomm Is Poised To Set The Precedent

By Christopher Wilder - December 1, 2015
Wilder-Telestax-e1448813552683-1200x900 (Source: Christopher R. Wilder) Last week was a whirlwind at the TADSummit and Telestax’s Restconn Customer Advisory Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The first part of the week was the TADSummit (Telephony Application Developer Summit). The conference hosted nearly 200 telecom innovators in-person with another 400 viewers streaming online each day. The TADSummit is designed to bring together innovators to share best practices in telecommunications software application development. Of the 200 in attendance, 45% were enterprise developers or end users, 25% were technology vendors, 25% were service providers, and the 5% remaining included analysts and consultants. Smaller, more focused conferences like TADSummit and The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) are bringing significant competition to the larger industry events and tradeshows. These gatherings provide more product and technology insight and better 1:1 networking opportunities. Competitors collaborate and learn, and smaller technology vendors can rise above the noise with direct access to end users and service providers. Please see my colleague John Fruehe’s overview of the ONUG conference here. The last part of the week was Telestax’s Restconn. I was honored to facilitate their customer advisory meeting. Restconn is designed to help the Telestax team to gain customer insights on the company’s strategy, share the company and product roadmap with valued customers and partners, and showcase technologies created on the Restcomm open source cloud communications development platform. Restcomm is quickly becoming the standard for developing open source cloud and telecommunications applications. Firms like Dialogic Inc., Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., LivePerson Ltd., Locatrix Communications, Slovak Telekom, Truphone Ltd, Telenor Digital, and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile are all building innovative solutions on the Restcomm developer platform today. I noticed a few important trends that came out of these conferences.
  1. Enterprises are putting pressure on traditional telecom providers to deliver more than just connectivity. Today’s enterprises are forced to abandon their traditional siloed approach to deploying solutions. In most cases, communications, applications, security, and IT are managed by different organizational structures. Over the past several years, there have been many efforts to align each of these organizations for a more cohesive IT environment. This alignment has forced most IT and / or DevOps environments to focus more on the deployment of IT solutions not their development. Enterprises are putting more and more pressure on their service providers to deliver integrated solutions at all layers. Telecom providers are being forced to adjust how they deliver services beyond just connectivity.
  1. Open source and the cloud are creating a significant disruption in how telecom solutions are delivered. Cloud is creating new delivery and consumption models not just with enterprises but telecom service providers as well. Further complicating this, open source is evolving the relationship providers have with software developers. Open source has become the fulcrum for software development and cloud services are allowing enterprises to deploy third-party solutions without having to manage or maintain them. Telestax’s Restcomm development platform has the promise to bridge the gap between open source communications functionality with cloud enabled services. A major challenge for not just Telestax but all open source vendors is security. Because of the industry’s meteoritic rise, open source solutions have become major targets for hackers. It will be important for contributors, and the industry as a whole, to provide resources and investment to fortify defenses and solve these security challenges.
  • From a cloud perspective, we have seen many providers positioning to be the “platform of platforms”. In hybrid cloud, Dell’s Boomi AtomSphere application integration platform has established a significant leadership position. Public cloud firms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Inc. are establishing open source ecosystem platforms for driving new services with technologies like Hadoop and Docker. From an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) perspective, firms like Artisan Infrastructure, Rackspace Hosting, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise are enabling managed service providers and value-added resellers (VARs) to open new markets and opportunities with infrastructure enablement platforms.
  1. Real-time communication enabling technologies are driving a renaissance of innovation in the telecoms application market. Because there is considerable pressure on telecoms to provide more value, telecom carriers are adjusting their business models to become more consultative. In effect, telecoms are acting more and more like systems integrators (SIs). Moving beyond connectivity, telecoms must extend their expertise to supporting, amongst other areas, application integration, Big Data, network function virtualization (NFV), the Internet of Things (IoT), and edge computing. Platform and equipment providers alike are building programs to certify and deliver open source solutions directly to telecom carriers.
  • For example, Huawei Technology recently announced a new initiative called GSIC (Global Service Innovation Cloud) to provide certified telecom applications to reach what they estimate as over 5B+ customers. Huawei currently hosts over 100 applications including SAP Business One, Microsoft Office 365, Healthsense, and Telestax’s Restcomm. There are not many companies that can deploy at the scale of Huawei. While I believe Huawei’s 5B+ number is aggressive with a dash of hyperbole, I do expect there is a viable market for vertically integrated or niche application stores to emerge. These stores will eventually consolidate into the mega-vendors that will deliver Apps Store functionality for specific vertical and horizontal market segments to the telecom market. Huawei is in a good position to take advantage of these market realities.
Although apocryphal, there is a Chinese saying or maybe a curse that states, “May you live in interesting times”. Regardless of origin, we live in interesting times. Open source, cloud, and changes in the enterprise marketplace have created a major shift in how we design, develop, and deploy communications solutions today. Developers should follow the open source path and have their applications certified or approved by a platform like Restcomm or Huawei’s GSIC initiative. There is a significant need in the telecom industry to bring to market a user-friendly, easy to deploy, set of certified cloud-based solutions to support the telecom industry. While the industry is broad and wide, the need for solving specific business problems will continue to rule the day and drive revenue.  
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