By Simon Woodhead
Heads-up: As I write this I’m hungry, so expect food-based metaphors. Ironically I’ve just had lunch, but we’re into that time of year where my beloved thinks soup is a wholesome meal. I’m of course grateful, just hungry (and probably now sleeping in the car)!
So, if you think of most carrier voice networks they’re very focussed on two things. Voice in, voice out. This used to be PSTN before SIP but is now often just SIP. You could think of it like a short string of sausages with their peers at one end and their customers at the other.
When something new and shiny like Teams comes along, you can’t easily insert this in between the sausages so instead, you need a bit of spaghetti which you can tie between the sausages and link up somewhere else – the food equivalent of a magic box, perhaps a Kinder egg. So you now have your two sausages with a string of spaghetti to a Kinder egg. Got it?
Then along comes Zoom and, shucks, you’re going to need another string of spaghetti in a different direction to another Kinder egg. Replicate that a few times for redundancy and very quickly you have something indigestible!
When I look at Simwood I see a jacket potato, a global-sized jacket potato of course. Around it is a few layers of tin-foil, which I’ll come back to, but going into it are numerous kebab skewers, each representing the SIP interconnects in various parts of the world that any customer can connect to at any time. They’re not tied to the end of a particular sausage but rather free to connect anywhere anytime. The potato is an intelligent core that operates globally in harmony, routing calls and applying a myriad of intelligent features.
Against that background, Teams is just another few skewers into the nutritious potato, 8 of them to be precise, representing the different regions around the world. Zoom is a few more skewers. WebRTC is more skewers. Whatever Slack comes up with in due course is a few more skewers. And of course SIP remains. The key thing here is that calls can come in and go out on any skewer, so we’ll happily take in a Teams call from Singapore and deliver it out over Zoom in New York. Our customers have full control of the intelligent nutritious potato in the middle to configure routing as they require. This benefits customers who may want calls delivering to Teams and Zoom and SIP and WebRTC in parallel, or in some kind of failover or time-of-day arrangement. We do that!
I said I’d return to the tin-foil. As well as the key services connecting into the central core, there are add-on features such as call-recording, PCI compliance and AI needed. In a sausage world these would be yet more confectionery at the end of yet more (and probably customer specific) spaghetti, but in our world these are the layers of tin-foil. Wherever and whichever skewer a call comes in or goes out, it has to pass through the tin-foil. Having passed through one layer of tin-foil it has to pass through the others. Thus any and every feature that the network is enabled to offer is just a layer around the core available to every service everywhere.
So there you have it: the future of telecoms is a baked potato not a sausage! We have more layers of tin-foil to go but Teams is now generally available on the Carrier Services platform and Zoom will be there Q1. Hopefully you can appreciate why we didn’t just rush out and buy a few Kinder eggs!