Voicemail Replacements and Next Generation UC — Transcription
Neil:Good morning and/or afternoon, everyone. I'd like to welcome you to the webinar. It's always good when we have people to show up to listen to us talk about our product. That's our very favorite thing to do. Today what we're going to do is we're going talk about the CallXpress enterprise version 8.2.
A while back we sort of changed the way we released software, and some people found it a little confusing. What we now have are major point releases. This one would be 8.2 we're talking about. Then we have what we call software updates, which are sort of like dot releases, but we just control them a little differently.
The reason we do this is the industry is changing so fast that the drive for adding specific pieces of functionality to the product makes it very difficult to do typical one-year software releases. There is just too much going on, so we've broken it down to smaller more manageable components. If you look at 8.2, 8.2 itself came out in November of 2011. Then we started doing the software update releases, and you can we've done three of them.
So what we're going to do today is we're going to talk very briefly about the new things that came out in software update 3. Then we'll also go back and just sort of review all the different pieces that have come out, to make sure that everyone on the webinar has a good, full understanding of really what has been added to the product in the last year.
So we'll start sort of at the front end and work backwards, and the first thing we'll look at is software update 3. Software update 3's big piece of functionality is our support for the Microsoft Office 365, the e-mail and groupware solution and the cloud that they are deploying. It's very similar to the Exchange 2010 product that someone might have on site, and there are a few differences, of course, based on the fact that it is hosted.
This is generating a lot of interest in the small- and mid-size companies, in particular, although a lot of our larger customers are evaluating it as well. There is quite a bit of sense in moving some of this functionality to the cloud. We're going to look at the cloud, kind of the structure – the way stuff is getting deployed today in just a second.
I tell a story about this one that makes it, for me, easy to understand what goes on. I have a rack full of servers behind my desk we use for testing and demonstrations in things. For years I've maintained an Exchange server there to show unified messaging and some of our higher unified communications functions. Of course, that makes me a typical Exchange administrator, and it is just very complex to keep that Exchange system up and current, and if you are not it every day to make sure that it is always functioning for people that call into my system.
So last year I basically succumbed to the draw, the allure of the cloud, and I got rid of my on-site Exchange server, and I deployed Office 365 with a small number of accounts out in the cloud, so that now all the functionality we now have on our product that works with Exchange can also be demoed by all my remote users - my sales engineers in the field and things like that.
What does that mean? That means that we have the full unified messaging, all of the various flavors of unified messaging that we do. With Exchange in-house we also support in the cloud. That includes access to the calendar and contacts. If you have our speech recognition applications that take use of that and full of message control waiting indicators.
So the architecture here is our CX system would sit typically inside your enterprise just like it always has, connect to your phone system, and then we'd use your connection out through your firewalls to the hosted center where your 365 works. From the point of view of deploying it and our functionality there's really no difference than what we do with the Exchange 2010 piece today. If you are looking to deploying or moving out into the cloud, as long as you get one of the enterprise-level accounts -- those are the "E-plans," like E-1, E-2, E-3-it's very simple for us to put the full range of our system functionality into play even though you have hosted that.
The hosting piece is something that's generating an awful lot of attention everywhere in the software and application industry. The people that talk about this - the consultants - have designated this "the year of the hybrid." The hybrid being not everyone is really interested in deploying everything out in the cloud. There are some things that they either want to keep tighter control of, or economically it doesn't make sense for them. What we're starting to see is people deploying some of their solutions out in the cloud, the public cloud, hosted-basically just an IP code connection from their point of view.
Some of the things remain inside their cloud, their private cloud, on their own network. Even multi-site customers with dozens of locations still keep part of that functionality inside. So the trick with deploying a hybrid solution is to make sure that you have the right kind of flexibility and connectivity to have those parts be where you want them to be.
So one of the big drives for software update 3 was to get this final piece of connectivity for the Office 365 out and into play, so that our customers who are perhaps today are on Exchange 2010, they want to migrate, and they now can migrate users a few hundred at a time and still maintain all the functionality from their CX system. So the private-cloud, public-cloud hybrid move is something that lots of industries are spending time getting to understand and implementing in their products.
There was a pretty big survey that went out in of January this year, and they went out and they basically talked to enterprises. They said, "So today on the voice side, what do you have deployed? How have you deployed your voice solutions, primarily your telephony solutions?" And 71% are premise-based; they have a phone system on their site that supports those users. Twenty percent is hybrid, meaning that some of their stuff is on- site; some of their stuff is out private or public in a cloud. In other words, they're supporting some of their locations without any actual equipment on those sites. And 9% of the people have actually moved to fully hosted crowd-based telephony solutions.
That same group of managers that handles those applications, when we asked them - well, we didn't do it - but when the people at Web Tutorial did, they said there's going to be a significant movement to hybrid and to cloud-based. So people are evaluating on the voice side moving their solutions out in the cloud. They see the financial value of doing that, and, whatever restrictions they may have used before, they seem to be overcoming those.
That same group was asked in terms of their general unified communications solutions, which would be their web conferencing, their groupware - all of that sort of functionality - "What's the state of the union today?" And it's very similar: 65% completely on-site, 26 hybrid and 9% of that is already out in the cloud. And when asked about their future, very similar, other than this time it's viewed as more of a hybrid future. They are more likely from a UC piece to still want to keep some control, a little larger percentage of that application functionality within their own firewalls.
When you look at this kind of chart and this survey, and the numbers tell the story that what you really need to be in our market space, our kind of product, is to be comfortable and flexible, so that you can go still -- still a large number will be premise-based for our solution, and still a large number will be hybrid based and also the full cloud deployment.
All those come into our plans when we look at adding the functionality to the CX product. As we looked even earlier than software update 3, with the software update 2, there are still a lot of things going on both to support the mobility side of the product and also to support the architecture of the product. So the software update 2 piece was primarily focused on architectural changes.
Just a quick list, and we'll go to some of these quickly to look at kind of how we are reviewing the architecture piece. Now keep in mind, the architecture piece is directly influenced by things going on in the market, such as movement to the cloud, such as consolidation where more and more people see the economy of scale of bringing everything into a single centralized system. Most larger, multi-site enterprises have done that with their groupware environment and a lot of their other on-site applications. They are looking at doing that in their telephony department, and that certainly ripples on through to us, where people want to also do it with their unified communications system.
One of the things we see people doing, particularly as they centralize, is wanting to virtualize the applications. Virtualization has a lot of advantages - financial advantages, control advantages. The concept here is you should be able to take applications and create virtual machines on a single physical server, create four or five virtual servers so that you could run those applications with a certain amount of isolation and still have them all consolidated and easily maintained.
The leader right now in that market right now, of course, is VMware, and the way you really want to support something on VMware, is you want to go into their labs and you want to get their status of VMware-ready. It takes a bit of work to get it in and deployed in their labs and have them go through it. There are quite a few hoops you go through to make sure that you've done it the way they believe is the healthy and robust way, and so we did that. With SU-2 we went into the VMware Labs and got full VMware-ready status for everything. You can take every component on a CX system and virtualize it in a VMware environment.
Now there are a couple things you have to look at when you do that. The system server piece, because it has a hardware resource requirement, which is the USB security dongle. That has some specific requirements in terms of what levels of VM where you have to do. And the call servers, the part that connects to the phone system, in some integrations requires physical cards: Dialogic or Aculab cards. And in that case that call server can't be virtualized. But if you can go to an IP type integration, then the entire solution can be virtualized.
There are a lot of reasons for virtualization. That's somebody else's whole webinar. But if that is something you are pursuing within your enterprise, you can be completely comfortable that we've gone down that path. We have hundreds of customers who are using VMware. And indeed, we use it in our own labs for the reason that we need hundreds of installations of the CX system. And we really don't want to deploy that many servers. So we are a consumer of this technology. We really understand the value of it. And we made an extra effort to make sure that our customers could use it as well.
As we start consolidating and centralizing, the size of systems go up dramatically. It wasn't that many years ago that we did 196 ports as a maximum. We changed to [inaudible 00:11:09] architecture. We brought that up to 384. We felt that would hold us for quite a while. But as this consolidation and centralization became more and more prevalent suddenly 384 ports wasn't enough. So with software update 2 we increased the capacity across the board for what we can support. Now a single system can have up to 500 ports and up to 96 ports on a single call server if you're using the speech application. Or, up to 144 ports on a traditional without speech.
So what that does is two things: one, it lets it grow larger. Now we have these nationwide enterprises or even worldwide that consolidate all down into one or two data centers. So they need that higher port capacity, and we can support that. And also as you start growing your systems and you want to run them on single servers, this capacity lets you deploy with less servers if that's what you're looking for. The expanded scalability was a big part of 8.2 as we look at this whole movement for the enterprises in particular to consolidate everything down into one or two data centers.
Another thing we added in was upgraded ways to get our mobile client. We're going to look at our mobile client here down a software level or two. Our mobile clients are a very important part of our business. They're probably the mobility focus for us in the sense of understanding how people want to work now from their devices when they're away from their desks. And this is a true unified communications implementation in that it not only takes software for us but it takes software for the vendors who support these. So both Android Google and I-Phone at Apple, they have components that we use and connect to. So as a result we have to stay on top of the things they do.
One of the things we had to do in software 2 was change that technology a bit to match how the vendors had changed theirs. We found out that, for instance, Android moved to a different kind of push notification that we use for our devices. So we had to make sure that we were comfortable in getting our product up and going on that. Because the last thing we want to do is have a unified communications product that isn't up-to-date and doesn't match the other vendors' standards.
A lot of the work goes on behind the scenes for these things. It shows up in the release as a small bullet point. But it actually is one of the things we're very proud of keeping on top of is making sure that our connectivity is the broadest in the industry out there.
We also have a fairly strong business practice growing for our, what we call, business process business. What that means is we certainly have a lot of features in our product, more than anybody else. But no matter how many we put in, our customers continually challenge us by wanting some extra things, some different things, sometimes some very unique things. So we have a program where we have tool kits that allow us or our customers directly to build custom unified communications solutions to meet their specific needs.
In an effort to make that information available and more palatable what we did in Software update 2 was if you buy those tool kits from us, we now include two free applications. And not only the applications but the source code for those applications. One of them is dynamic call routing where you can, if you have the UC connect tool kit, enable this and it allows calls to be routed based on either a captured caller I.D. number. An identity of the caller where maybe you have a caller that goes to specific agents or help desks. Or prompting the caller to enter numeric information, such as a Zip Code or account number and routing the call based on that.
Sometimes that application is enough. We have people deploying that and using it. But sometimes the customers say, "That's good, but what we actually need is a slight difference here where we want to capture the [inaudible 00:14:58] number. Then we want to look up in a database to do something." So it's a little bit different. That's why since we've included the source code, customers are actually able to modify these applications to do the things they really want to do.
The system information application is great for the maintenance side of the business, because you can set it up to give a caller back information about the health of the system - where they're calling from; is it capturing the right information, and how are my processes running? So both of those come with the UC connect application, and the goal here is to encourage people to think about custom solutions and then to take a look at how we've deployed some of these things.
We have a lot of customers who build or have us build custom solutions. There is a whole setup out on our website we can go see and we can show you the applications we've built, the kind of things that get done, the pieces of our toolkit, so you can have an understanding of if you have a particular unified communications solution how you can use the CX system as something to solve it.
This gets very, very interesting financially if you are already going to deploy the CX for our other in-box solutions. The cost to build custom solutions is very low compared to any other way of approaching it, because this is an application module that runs right on a CX server and leverages all those existing components. So if you think of things like somebody calling in and entering an account number and finding out on their product ships, are a click-to-call function on a website - all that kind of custom functionality that may be useful can now be not only implemented, but can do so leveraging the CX platform. So it makes it much more financially attractive.
If we take now the CX-2 basic release and what we added to it, there were those same basic things we talked about in the whole presentation. Mobility was a big piece of what we wanted to enhance in our product. We've had mobility features in our product for over 20 years, but more and more they get to be a bigger part of certainly the research we do in the new software that we create.
We wanted to talk about the cloud piece again, and that's the virtualization scalability, some of the other direct things that we are connected to out in the cloud, or to enable the mobility and in the cloud piece together. Then of course, we always have more integrations to the systems out there. That really is one of our claims to fame is we integrate to everything. We're not owned by somebody that makes the phone system, or routers or anything else. So it really is our target to take our world, our unified communications piece, to be able to be able to deploy it in any environment at all. That's one of the things we spend some time on.
And then the business process piece we talked about - some of it we write; some business processes come to us. You know, people say, "There are things we would like to see." Enough people say that and they get into the basic product, and, as we say, some of the others end up being custom solutions that we can help in an enterprise.
The biggest piece of 8.2, I think in terms of adding value that customers really could immediately take advantage of, were the mobile apps. We've had applications that run in browsers on mobile apps for years, but it really turns out that if you want to deploy a really functional app that's easy for users, then there are some rules you follow. One of the rules is that you make it look like every other app on their device. You make it very easy to learn. These apps that come on mobile devices, they don't come with user guides. It doesn't work that way. They have to be very intuitive, and if you follow the logic of a device - where people put various buttons and things on devices - then that kind of follows through without much work on the user's part.
So that's what we did. We went out and we did an iPhone and an Android mobile application, built them with the native toolkit so they look exactly like all the other applications that would run on that type of device. Then we put them up to the store, and now you basically go to the store and you get those downloads.
This whole range of functionality we're going to talk to is immediately available and very, very easy to use and learn. And you'll see some of the screenshots as we go to this. I think it will make perfect sense to you that if this is a functionality that you think has value, there's very little effort to roll it out. That's a part of the design criteria we gave our engineers.
So, of course, the concept here on targeting specific smartphones has to do with market penetration and ease of use. The visual and touchscreen functionality is why you really write in the native format. While I could do a web app where you go ahead and try to type things in, or even hit things on a webpage, it's much easier to do the functionality using the visual toolkits that come with these devices. So that's what we did.
While the functionality is almost identical - and on this main screen it looks fairly similar - the way these apps navigate are different, because they follow the native formats of the devices. So one of the things we found as we were starting this out - and this maybe started first five years ago for us - we would go to our user group meetings, our dealer meetings, any customer meeting we were at and we would always say, so what's going on in the mobile world for you?
And if you go back seven or eight years people had mobile phones, sometimes the business provided them. They really stayed away from smartphones. And then Blackberry made excellent market penetration, as a smartphone, particularly because it could handle e-mail so well, and then a few years after that we started seeing iPhones creep into the enterprise environment, and I say creep because they were quite often not really the device of choice for the I.T. department to deploy, but they're such a wonderful toy that people went out and bought them and sort of brought them in to the enterprise.
The bring-your-own-device movement started back then and there was various levels of resistance to that, most of which you folded down and now it's a matter of management as opposed to resistance. And one of the problems when people bring their own device in is separating the charges, the cost involved between work and personal use. So when we built our application, we had a strong focus on being able to do the things that we do for the work side in such a way that they are separate from what the user might still do on their personal device. And we ended up doing enough things where most people who deploy these see the value in using our solution whenever people bring their own devices in.
So let's talk about a couple of the things that we do on this. We're very strong on single number reach. And single number for reach for us has two main components in it. The first component is something we've had for years, which is a speech recognition automated attendant. And why that single number reach, is because the way you deploy that solution means everyone's phone number is the same. So if I were to show you my business card and Emily were to show you her business card, you would see they have the same phone number on them.
The reason is, when you call that number, our solution answers and it says, hello, welcome to AVST. Please say the first and last name of the person you are trying to reach or the department name. And now you can say Emily's name or you can say my name and that single number really gives us a focus on getting this one application platform to handle everything.
Now there's a number of side advantages we get for that and we'll look at those and we go through these apps. The other part of single number reach has to do with a feature we call personal assistant, where I don't just have just a single number myself. I have two mobile devices. I have a phone at my desk. I have a phone at my lab, and I have a phone in my home office and depending on my work schedule that's really the easiest way to connect to me.
What I don't want to do is tell people, oh so if you call me tomorrow, I'll be in the office until eight so use this number, and then I'll be on the road for two hours so here's my mobile number and then in the afternoon I'll be at my home office. That kind of dialing for dollars message to a client, or even a co-worker isn't very effective.
So the way we handle this is all of those devices, all those numbers tied to my account on the CX system, and I have a set of rules that I get to build that say things like, from six to seven in the morning when people call and ask for me, send it to my mobile phone. The one that's tied to the Bluetooth in my car. From 8:00 to noon, send it to my desk first, and then if I don't answer, send it to the lab phone because I'm likely to be in one of those two places. And then from noon to 1:00, send it to my mobile phone because I'm probably out for lunch and then I'm going to work at home, so from one to five, send it to my home office number, and if I don't answer, send it to my mobile phone.
So that whole concept of routing calls to the best location, or best device, and controlled completely by the user is the other part of single number reach. You only have to call me at one number. I will control, on not only how you reach me, but whether or not you reach me, because with this kind of approach when I get ready to go in and do a webinar, like I'm doing now, I simply go in and change my availability to, do not disturb. So now people can't call me on any of my devices because when they call that main number and they ask for me the system knows he doesn't want to be disturbed now so we will take a message. So single number reach, while it's not just a feature on the mobile client, becomes a very popular thing that people use, and mobile people, they need to change that on a regular basis.
I have the best intentions in the world when I set up my schedule for the week, but there are many people who can change that schedule on me by redirecting me. So I can take this mobile client and as I suddenly have to walk out to the door, because I'm heading out for a customer visit that I didn't know about, I can hit that availability button, and you see it says office now. I can hit it and a menu will come up and I'll change it to my mobile device as I walk out the door. Now that single number reach is more effective. I can control it with overrides. I can do those overrides from our speech interface, from our web client, but this is the easy way because let's face it, we all have our mobile devices with us all the time. So anything you can do for your mobile device is a handy way to do it.
I can place out-going calls from our mobile app. Now most people at some point say well, I can already make outgoing calls from my mobile phone. But if we go back to that bring your own device customer, if they're making all of their calls just out through their regular mobile phone, at some point in time, somebody's going to have to talk about billing. The customers and user is going to suddenly say, wow, look how many more minutes I'm using now that I'm using it at work. Work, I need you to compensate me for that. And of course, now you have what calls are work, and what calls are personal, and it gets very complex.
So, we have an app that lets you make your outbound calls from your mobile device but not through the typical mobile channel. What happens is you either dial a number or you have a call log that shows your incoming calls or a message log. You make a call from that app, we send the information on the data channel of the telephone to the CX system. It places a call back into your mobile phone, and then another call back out to the number you're dialing and bridges you together. Two great results here. The first one is you now have a log of all of your business calls. We have a call log that you can export and put into billing packages. And now whether it's simply allocation or control, you now have the ability to know the difference between incoming and outgoing calls.
The second big advantage is if you make calls that way, the customer never sees your mobile number. This is what's called mobile number protection. The reason you don't want your customer to see your mobile number, is once they realize that's your mobile number, they will write it down. Because let's face it, that's the best number to get you at, that's the one that you are most likely to be able to answer at all times, sometimes day or night. It's just not a good thing to give them that much access to you that's uncontrolled.
When we do the call through our device, what the customer sees, is the CX system telephone number on that incoming call. Remember that's how we made it, we made a call back to your device and then another outgoing call from our system to the customer, so they see the ANI for the CX number. And now next time they call you, it's going to come in to our system, which is what we want because now the rules you've put in place, will be there to control when you receive calls and how you receive them.
So, making the outgoing calls gives you that mobile number protection. And it takes a while for this to settle in. But you eventually get to the point where you never have to turn the ringer off on your mobile phone. You simply point those calls where you want them. If you don't want them coming to your mobile phone, you call in on our speech interface and say, change availability to do not disturb, or to my link client, or whatever else I want to do. So mobile number protection is kind of a side benefit. But it's a pretty important one for mobile users.
The other thing that we have on this that's really unique solves the problem that customers came to us. After we released our speech interface we can screen calls on our speech interface. So if you call me and I answer the phone at my desk. I will hear, you have a new call from John Tyler. Please say accept, reject, or acknowledge. And now I get to make a choice, what's more important, my current task, or that incoming call? I have the identity of that caller and now I can make that decision.
The problem is, a lot of people spend a lot of time in meetings where they can't really answer every call to see who it is. So, in the mobile app, we built a visual call screening on the data channel that is silent. So now, I can sit in a meeting, I see a little screen pop up, I look down. If it's somebody from my own system, or somebody in my contacts, I'll look that ANI number up. And I will actually show the name and company name of that caller. And I can make that same kind of decision. Do I need to take this call? If I don't I hit reject, it goes straight to voicemail. If I do, I hit accept, I step out into the hall, a second later, my phone rings, and I can take that call. And likewise, I can record an acknowledgment message. I click acknowledge, a little recorder bar comes up and I can say, yeah Jack I'm in a meeting, I'll call you in 10 minutes.
In our next version of software, due out within a month or so, we actually will have pre-canned acknowledgment messages. So you can actually do a full acknowledge silently as well. So the ability for you to decide and control over incoming calls which ones are really worth taking, allows you to do things like, turn that phone on such that that person who has that one bit of information you really need. When you see that pop up you take that call and the rest of them you can simply pass on and they go back to voicemail.
The other thing is since you have this with you, let's let you control some of the common features in your mailbox. because like I say, this is the device everyone carries all of the time. I mean, I get up and leave my desk to walk into the lab, I carry my mobile phone with me. I walk down the hall to refill my Coke, I throw my mobile phone in my pocket. Most people are pretty close to as compulsive as I am.
So since I have this with me, now I can very easily change my availability settings, record my greetings, change all my mailbox settings so all those things that people are likely to want to change on the fly, are exposed in a couple of nice settings screens on this, So, this is really a multi-purpose application. Everything focused for mobile people.
Now, our definition of mobile is very broad. It basically means I'm not at my desk at work. Anywhere else, I'm mobile. I'm back in my lab, I'm mobile. Yes, I have some of the functionality of my desk but not all of it. I'm working from my home office, I'm mobile. I still have some connectivity but things are different. So we really try and kind of equal the playing field for when you're away from your desk.
Of course, we're a messaging company at heart as well, so you can view and manage your voicemail messages from our mobile app and what this is doing is taking the application and connecting to the messages that are on CX. Now, a lot of our end users put their messages in their e-mail system so they can manage their voicemail over their mobile device from their e-mail client and that's fine, works great. But there's also a lot of customers that don't want to put their voicemail messages into the e-mail app and for those customers, this mobile app let's them have the flexibility of managing their voice messages when their away using the mobile client.
We don't actually download all the messages to the mobile client. We simply download these message headers that you can see and you can click on a message and go ahead and play that message. We'll stream it to play it but we won't actually save it on the device. There's two reasons you don't write things to the device. Storage on mobile devices is at a premium and you really don't want an app that fills up that storage. People want their songs in that storage and their games. So putting a bunch of voice messages in there isn't the way to go.
The second, and probably more important reason is if somebody loses their device, you can very quickly go in and turn off the app in CX and when the non-user finds this and opens up this app, they can't get to anything because we're not storing the directory, the messages, the call logs. All that is downloaded on an as-needed basis. And with today's 3G and 4G connectivity, that's really not a problem. So a very secure app as well.
So if you look at the two apps, they basically parallel each other. There's really only one very small difference in terms of what the apps can do. The Android app currently can't look at fax messages where the iPhone app can and that'll probably be fixed in an upcoming release. Although, honestly, there's not a lot of fax message viewing on small devices that's going to work out very well.
We also have a web client that does the availability settings piece. So if you have a smartphone that has a web browser but it's not one of these, there's a certain amount of functionality that you can get from that one as well.
So when we talk about connecting to people, unified communications, there are so many challenges because in every area of the business, new systems are being deployed that have overlapping functionality or could benefit from overlapping functionality. So one of the latest things we did with 8.2 is we enabled a link gateway. Now, there's a lot of gateways you could get so that your link client can make phones outside onto the public switch network or receive them in. They all work pretty much the same way. You map a DID number, it rings on your link phone. You pick up your link phone and make an outgoing call and it goes out through that same kind of gateway.
What we built was a little different. We built what we call an "intelligent gateway". Because you now take your link client, that cellphone and link and you make it one of those devices we talked about. So in my device list, I have two mobile phones, my home office number, my lab number, my desk number and my link client. Now, I don't answer phone calls when I'm at work on my link phone because I have a perfectly feasible and usable phone right next to me. But it would be nice sometimes to use my link client and with that intelligent gateway and that find me, follow me list, I can do that. I can now choose to point calls at my link client only when I want to and, for me, it's when I'm at the hotel.
Basically, when I travel and I check into a hotel, the first thing I do is make sure I have enough bandwidth. I boot up my computer and I either go into my mobile client or I call in and say, "Change availability to add hotel," and my add hotel call list says, somebody asks for me, first send it to my link client and if I don't answer, send it to my mobile phone in case I'm downstairs getting a bag of potato chips or something. So the intelligent gateway adds great value for those people who want occasional, casual use of their linked cellphone, just like any of their other devices.
So if we talk about how we do all this stuff, it has to do with interoperability. Like I said earlier, we work very hard to make sure we can connect to everything. So out in the world today we connect to all the phone systems that I know of in lots of different ways, legacy TVM integrations, IP [and SIP] integrations. Everything out there, no matter what your environment is, you're going to find you can use our system. We don't want you to not have the kind of wonderful functionality we have just because we haven't built an integration for your system. So with 8.2, we've added new integration after new integration and we're pretty much current on everything that's out there.
We added another functionality. This was one, a business process app, where people kept asking and what they wanted was the ability to reset a user's security code from our web client. So we have a really nice web client. You put in your mailbox number, your password, you can get in. You can maintain your availability settings. You can record your name and greeting. It's been out a long time. It's called Web PhoneManager.
What it couldn't do, prior to 8.2, was if you've forgotten your password, you couldn't get in. Couldn't get in on the phone, couldn't get in on the web client. So we set up a very secure application that now let's us allow the user to reset a forgotten pass code without having to trouble the help desk and this was a very, very popular, particularly with the help desk people.
So there's probably 100 other features between the 8.2 and the three software updates and we don't list all of them because some of them are very specific and don't really apply to a lot of people, like you hear the list of just some of them that we put in there. We did some of the things to upgrade the support for various other systems we connect to. We built some great tools to help people when they're maintaining the system. We exposed some more functionality on the Web. We did some more testing with web clients. This is what we do every software release in order to keep current.
Unified communications means everything can talk to everything else. It's the most important concept to keep in mind. Lots of people will sell you a unified communications suite with their five things that talk to each other and they're completely locked in terms of talking outside of that world and, to us, that's not unified communications. What we do is everything we build, we test with everything we can think of and we can use all open standards, industry standard protocols so that we should be able to go into your enterprise and say, "Show us what you have and not, 'we'll tell you what you have to change,' but we'll tell you how we'll hook up to what you have today."
Just a couple of things, the reason we do this is we have a lot of existing customers who look at these webinar to sort of keep current so I'm using this opportunity just to let you know that the 8.2 release that we have out now will be the last one to support some of the older legacy functionality. So the very old, proprietary networking that we have, dial-up networking, will go away. Although Amos will still be there for customers who absolutely have to have something.
The DPNSS integrations will be gone but we have Q.sig or cast integration to replace them. The older, legacy Aculab cards won't be supported as we go forward but we have other cards to replace those and the biggest thing is if you do have a custom application that was written five years ago or so and it was written in VB 6, one of earlier versions of UC Connect, the VB 6 apps won't be able to move ahead just because of the way Microsoft's deploying the libraries to support them. So they will have to be rewritten.
So keep in mind if you have a custom app to get in touch with whoever wrote that for you and make those preparations. 8.2 will be around for quite awhile still. The newest version of it just went out a few weeks ago so it's not like we're saying this is going end of support but we like to give people as much knowledge ahead for these kind of changes as we can.
And always, my favorite slide . . .
Emily: Okay. So it looks like we have some questions and the first question, Neil, are you ready?
Neil: I don't know. We'll see.
Emily: Okay. First question is: "What additional licensing is required to connect to Exchange 2010 servers and what's required not the Exchange server and on the CX-E server?"&#8232;
Neil: Sure. So the we don't license voicemail mailboxes, first of all. You can have as many voicemail users as the system you buy will support. I mean, at some point in time, if you have a lot of users, you'll probably need more ports but from a mailbox perspective, you can have all the users you want. When you want unified messaging, most of the flavors of unified messaging, like if you want to store your messages in Exchange, the user requires a unified messaging license and you buy those in packs of 25, 50, 1,000, whatever and each individual license enables one user to be configured for that.
Now, with Exchange 2010, you don't really need anything on the Exchange 2010 side. The way we connect to Exchange 2010, as well as to Office 365 is using the Microsoft web services interface, which is an existing interface that's there, it's always turned on, it's always ready. So you'll have to program an account on the Exchange server for us to use with specific admin rights but there's no licensing implications to doing unified messaging when we connect to Exchange.
Emily: Okay. Great. Next question: "Does AVST support Apple iOS?"
Neil: So Apple iOS, that's a broad question. So certainly we talked about we have mobile clients that go on iPhones. We do that. The mobile client actually will work on an iPad as well. We're reengineering one to look better because it kind of looks funny running on an iPad but it does work. We have a number of our internal people using it as well as customers. We don't have some of the functionality that we built for the Windows world. We don't build for the Mac world, let's say. So if you're doing Unified Messaging on a Windows machine, we have some nice forms enhancements that will put a player bar in the window and things like that.
While you still can run that on, let's say you have an Exchange client running on Mac, that'll still work. It's just our particular add-ins won't be there so it'll look more like an e-mail with a WAV file attachment. So there's nothing in the way of functionality that we don't support out there but I will admit that some of our functionality is a little more full-featured in the Windows world just because that's such a larger piece in the enterprise market than the iOS piece is.
Emily: Okay. Next question: "Are there virtualization options available on the CX system?"
Neil: Well, we had a couple of slides on VMware if that's what they're asking for. So the CX can be fully virtualized on VMware depending on the type of integration you have and the level of VMware you have. Whoever asks that question, if you missed that part, when you get the slides, when you get the e-mail and if you go to that page I think it'll show you how we do that fairly easily.
Emily: Great. Next question says, "Neil, you are just awesome."
Neil: That's not a question. They should be asking me if I'm awesome to be a question. But thank you.
Emily: The next one is: "Is the integration to Office 365 done via Exchange web services like in Exchange 2010?"
Neil: Exactly the same way. While we did have to make code changes, some very minor code changes in terms of how we use those Exchange web services, the end result is, as of software update 3, you configure it exactly the same way. We actually had a big battle because they didn't want to build a separate integration document because everyone from engineering said, "No, it's the same thing. Just tell them to configure it the same." We actually ended up kind of just doing it a new document and cut and pasting Office 365 everywhere that Exchange 2010 was. There's a little bit of difference. The way you create the account is a little different, become the hosted system. But, yeah, basically from our point of view, the interface is exactly the same.
Emily: Okay. Our next question, another Office 365: "To use the new Office 365 integration, do we need to install Outlook on the CX servers?"
Neil: No. No, we don't like things on the CX server like that. Because of the web services piece, it's perfectly reasonable to do the kind of integration we do. And I know where this comes from - this is probably from one of our dealers - some of our older integrations to Outlook back when they used mapping required us to put specific elements on to use that technology but mapping's gone now. Web services takes its place and it requires nothing unique on our server at all. We build that gateway by simply programming the information in and using the native web services piece that's available.
Emily: Okay. Next question: "Do the administration and reports applications work for Windows 7 and Windows 8?"
Neil: So Windows 7, yes, no problems at all. Windows 8, you can make them work. I have them running on a couple of my machines. The problem right now is our install program. Since we haven't officially tested anything on Windows 8, we're right in that process right now. What our install program does when you go to run it is it says, "Okay. Install," and then it goes and reads the operating system version on the machine and it comes back and says, "I'm sorry. This is not a supported operating system." There's a way around that with a command line switch so I've loaded on the admin clients on my machine and they run fine. It's not technically supported but the support for Windows 8 on the admin client side should be coming very shortly.
Emily: Okay. Next question: "Do you have to keep your mobility app open, for example, to reject calls?"
Neil: No, one of the reasons the timing for the mobility apps, when we release them, these have been on our drawing board for over 5 years, parts of them, because we just knew the functionality we wanted to deliver. But there were two problems. One was this one that this person's asking about. The way mobile phones worked for a long time is if an app wasn't open, you couldn't talk to it and it was very much a single-threaded kind of environment and both Android and the iOS stuff went beyond that about two years ago. So now there's a way to talk to apps, to wake them up, when they're not the active app and we take advantage of that.
The second piece was there was no way to find an app. A mobile device actually has an IP address but it's not something you can easily find and that's why we have those arrangements with both Android and Apple; we use their push notification services.
So the way this would work, you turn on your iPhone from scratch, cold in the morning, you never launch our app. You have it set up to do a notify on it; a call comes in and they ask for you. We actually send a data package to Apple or to Google, depending on which device you have, that says "please send this little bit of information to our app for this user" and they know how to find that device.
They send that in, it's received in and it causes our app to trigger, that's where you see the pop-up window come up. You do not have to have it open; it is basically architected for minimal drain on the battery, minimum storage, all the great design principles you're supposed to use for mobile apps, we took advantage of those.
Emily: Okay, great. Next question, are there any plans for a Linux-based platform?
Neil: We have several of them so let's talk a little bit. Unified Communications gets kind of complex in the Linux world because some of the toolkits that we've always used, some of the drivers for our hardware and things like that, really aren't available in the Linux world, or they become available a year after the Windows ones do.
I think I can easily say the CX platform will remain a Windows-based platform. Now, that being said, we also have an entire platform of LX, Linux-based system. As some of you may know, we merged with the Active Voice Company a year and a half ago; we bought the Active Voice piece of the company back from NEC and those are now our products.
So we have a Repartee product that runs on Linux and we also have some OEM products in the NEC world that run on Linux, so we have a Linux product.
I would not want to tell you that this is like a low-featured product; it is not. It's got a lot of great features. It doesn't scale as large as CX does and it doesn't have everything that's exactly the same. But if you absolutely are looking for a smaller Linux-based product, we have that.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a Cloud-based product, a hosted product that actually runs on Linux as well. That's targeted primarily for service providers who want to put a million mailboxes on it. Once again, it's not the same thing as CX.
It's not that we're not comfortable with Linux, we deploy it where it is the right solution, but in the real unified communications world, still the Windows environment has some very strong advantages.
Emily: Okay. Next question, what licensing is required for the mobile app?
Neil: Our Personal Assistant license enables a whole range . . . this really should be called, probably, our mobile license. You get the Personal Assistant license as a user, you get those Find-Me-Follow-Me roles we talked about, you get the mobile app. If you also have speech on the system, you get integration to the calendar and the contacts. That's the minimum license you have to have.
If you want to also get your voice messages on that app, so the messages are on CX, you want to be able to see them on your mobile app, then you would also require a UM license for that user.
Emily: Okay. Next question, are there any integrations available for Google apps?
Neil: Not directly for Google apps. Although what comes out in our next software release, hopefully, will give us the equivalent functionality with Google that we have with Office 365.
Let me caveat that a couple of different ways because those two services from the providers aren't the same. We can already do hosted e-mail with Google. What we don't do today is Calendar and Contacts. Both of those should be in 8.5 where now you can store your messages in Google, you can read your Google e-mail over the phone, you can use your calendar, you can access your contacts, all the same way.
The one piece that it appears just won't be available is Message Waiting. If I'm going to store my messages in Gmail, I can't control a Message Waiting light. Because, unlike Exchange and Office 365 which has a web services piece that will tell us when the user opened that message in their e-mail client, Gmail currently doesn't have any functionality like that.
So you will see a pretty full-featured integration. Today, we can do messaging already but you'll see Calendar and Contacts added with 8.5.
Emily: Great. The next question is "Can we get the slide deck?" and the answer is "Yes".
We will send you an e-mail after we close up this webinar so you'll be able to download the slides.
The next question, I'm sorry, I'm just going through a couple of these that you've already answered with Gmail. Are you working on an app for Windows 8 phones?
Neil: This is kind of an interesting one. The answer is "Yes, I am" because I have two Windows 8 phones. So I am rebuilding some of the functionality from our mobile clients for Windows 8. Corporate-wide we are not doing that and the reason is, while the penetration of Windows 8 phones in the enterprise is growing - and it's actually surprising to me how fast it's growing - it's still a really small slice of the pie. So when we look at our mobile developers, we kind of feel let's have them build a better app for the iPad that takes advantage of some of the other things on the iPad and there's a couple of other things ahead of building the one for the Windows 8 phone.
I think eventually we will do that, assuming that this trend continues but the people here at AVST laugh at me because I'm such a Windows bigot in a lot of ways because I've had a Windows phone of one type or another for a number of years. So, unfortunately, I don't think you'll see us offer one this year, I think would maybe be the official answer.
Emily: Okay. And then there's a follow-up question and that has pretty much the same answer but, "Will there be an app for the Blackberry that's coming out?"
Neil: If I were to run my very first presentation on these mobile apps, everything was in threes because we started out by building one for Blackberry as well as iPhone and Android and then right in the middle, the Blackberry people canceled support for all their API's because, as most of you know, they're changing their technology from one thing to another. They didn't have a developer program. We had no way to work on anything. They internally, if you followed their struggle, they really hadn't decided what they were going to do so, currently, no. We do have a vault with some software where we got pretty far down the line.
Now what you're going to have to do is watch Blackberry, just like we watched the Windows 8 phones. The funny thing about mobile phones today is I don't care what phone it is, it's not business-focused. The whole bring your own device and everything else is because phones are full of toys. People buy a smartphone because it plays their music and lets them watch videos, all these things that we like to have when we're out and about and, yeah, we hook it up to our business side as well. And that's the problem Blackberry ran into is they were a great business app but they were very slow to bring the personal applications onboard and they faltered a couple of times and the timing was bad for them.
Now they say, "Yes, we'll have a new platform out soon," but that new platform will suffer from the same thing that Windows phones suffered from in the beginning and there won't be any apps for them. So the question is, from an enterprise level, when I get rid of all my old Blackberrys, will I buy the new Blackberrys? Until we watch that happen, the story's the same for the Blackberry as it is for the Windows 8: not enough market penetration in the new device market for us to do anything actively.
We're watching it. Certainly if it becomes popular again we'll be right on top of that but, today, there's no active development effort for that. Now, you can use the web client on the Blackberry to do the availability settings but that's the only piece we support.
Emily: Okay. The next question is, "We are an Office 365 office but we are a little concerned about using the new integration. If Microsoft's going to make changes to 365 that will break the integration, do you get a good amount of lead time to write a patch?"
Neil: Yeah, so there's a couple of things going on. The web services interface we use, it's not just us. They use it for a lot of their functionality. Every other vendor that works with them uses it. So they're very unlikely to suddenly change the web services piece. Now that being said, we're a development partner with them, a gold partner, and we get advanced copies of everything. It is, I guess, possible that they would suddenly put out a maintenance patch that broke something. It's highly unlikely but if they did, then we would simply scramble and get our patch out as soon as we could afterwards.
I have to say, using the published API's from Microsoft, which we've been doing for years, back when we did the early mapping stuff, we never had a case where a new version came out and nothing worked. Now, we have had that with other software people that we partner with that aren't quite so good about working with their developers and letting them know in advance. So we've had like an integration break because the phone system side changed from someone and in those cases sometimes it takes us a day or two to fix it and get it all going again. But I have to say, on the Microsoft side, we just haven't had that.
Emily: Okay. Next question: "To get voicemail messages on the mobile client, you said we need to have a UM license. Don't we need to be a local store or have secure UM?"
Neil: So you have to have a UM license and what that does on our system is it means things can connect to the message store to give you your message. So once you have a UM license and you are set up for a local store, so the messages do have to be on the CX system, then as long as you have a PA license, the big difference is, if you're set up for it, when you open your client, there'll be a messaging button. If you aren't set up for it, when you open your client, there won't be a message button. So all you have to do is program it correctly on CallXpress and it'll be there.
Emily: Okay. Last question: "Have you experienced any issues with MWI and CX-E? Does CX-E resolve MWI issues with UM subscribers?"
Neil: So I will say, with the newer version of Exchange and their web services, the few things we had in terms of delays or services not starting correctly if those Exchange servers crashed and came back up, since we're using their native web services, all that seems to have gone away. There still are, on older versions of Exchange and on Notes, because those versions didn't have the technology to tell us when somebody opened a message in e-mail and we had to put a little app on the e-mail servers to kind of monitor those mailboxes and then tell us when to turn the light off, those were far more problematic than the ones we have today. If you have Exchange 2010, I would not expect you to have any MWI problems.
Emily: So thanks so much, everyone! Have a great day.