VoIP is an internet protocol that has been around for quiet sometime. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This works by wrapping up the voice data into internet protocol (IP) packets. The world of computing is rapidly changing, and a result, a lot of services are moving towards the cloud.
The cloud is a viable option as it can be accessed from anywhere and can provide less costs as the e.g. server is off site and in the hands of another company. This company is then responsible to prevent attacks and avoid downtime. In this report I will be investigating the differences between an asterisk/IP phone-based system and a cloud-based VoIP service. The cloud-based VoIP service I will be investigating is “Twilio”. A Modern, Cloud Based VoIP Service
Architecture and Features:
Twilio offers a wide range of features and services. I will be focusing on one of their features. This feature is:
The programmable voice has a vast array of features. One example is the queuing future. This allows the user to put calls into a queue and order them via priority. It also has two conference features. Twilio has the basic conference which allows you to connect calls from different devices e.g. phone call from SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) enabled device, phone call from PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and allow them all to communicate in the conference. It also has a feature called the global conference which allows for up to 250 callers to communicate in one call. This would be ideal for a large multi-national company. Twilio can also record 4 calls which could be beneficial to a call centre company. It also has quite a unique feature called TaskRouter.
This feature routes calls to the people that can handle them the best automatically. E.g. a technician that specialises in the area of cloud computing will be forwarded calls in relation into cloud computing rather than it being passed around from technician to technician. Twilio allows for users to call via their browser. This could reduce costs as businesses wouldn’t have to buy SIP enabled phones.
If a company does have SIP enabled phones or prefers using an actual hardware phone, Twilio allows for any SIP enabled devices to communicate via VoIP. Another interesting feature with Twilio is the elastic SIP trunking model. This feature connects IP based communication to the PSTN. This allows you to dynamically call across the globe at a cheaper rate then using traditional methods. This feature also only charges for what you use and not a fixed contract. An architecture diagram of the elastic SIP trunking can be seen here:
Comparison with Asterisk/IP-Phone
Twilio uses a lot of the same protocols that asterisk uses. They both use the SIP and VoIP protocol. It also can be implemented on an actual SIP enable VoIP phone as people may prefer to use hardware instead of software for communication. If implemented correctly, users of the new cloud-based VoIP system wouldn’t even notice the upgrade as they could still have the opportunity to use their IP phones.
The old traditional way of implementing VoIP meant hosting a server which could have deployed asterisk. This meant that it is usually hosted internally within the organisation. This can lead to complex configurations and usually will have a member of the team maintaining it and so on. With the cloud-based solution, it cuts out these issues. The old traditional implementation usually 6 required the organisation buy hardware IP-Phones. With Twilio, this does not have to be the case. Twilio has a large range of APIs and as a result you can create a slick smartphone application or browser extensions that can replace the old IP-Phone. With using Twilio, you can cut out the external line renting costs also as it uses its own servers which can allow a call to go to a PSTN phone.
Converting an old VoIP system to a modern new cloud-based system can be time consuming. Users are usually comfortable in using what they know. The organisation will have to re-train staff in order to show the users how to use the new cloud-based system. One of the biggest flaws with the cloud-based alternative is that it relies solely on an internet connection. If an organisation has a poor internet service provider (ISP), this would be a major issue. If there is no internet connectivity, this would cause the VoIP service to be useless and as a result of implementing the cloud-based system, the phone lines would be removed as they were redundant and hence the organisation is left without means of communication only if the internet drops.
Another issue with solely relying on an internet connection is that it determines the quality of the call. If an organisation is in a rural place, it may have a poor internet connection and as a result, if the cloud-based system is implemented the call quality might be fuzzy or break up.
There are both pros and cons of implementing a cloud-based VoIP system. One of the biggest pros is the cost. The cost is reduced drastically as line rental from a landline provider is not needed. A service like Twilio allows software-based phones to communicate and as a result of this, a company does not need to buy IP-Phones. As the servers are hosted in the cloud, the organisation also doesn’t have to spend money on buying expensive servers and waste manhours configuring the server which may be rather complex.
Packages from Twilio are relatively inexpensive compared to landline providers. Cloud based VoIP systems allow for relatively easy installs. It also allows for greater scalability as it is based in the cloud. The cloud provider (Twilio) are able to upgrade your package easily and allow for more VoIP enabled devices to use the service. If a company is changing location, the cloud-based system is ideal as it can be accessed from the new location. This once again saves man-hours as no technician will have to reconfigure e.g. IP addresses and so on.
A cloud-based system also doesn’t need regular maintenance as this is handled by the provider also. One of the main cons against cloud-based VoIP systems is the ability to e.g. add/delete users. With the cloud-based system, there is usually a delay in order for the provider to implement the changes. An onsite VoIP system can allow for easier e.g. adding/deleting of users. Overall, a cloud-based system is certainly the way forward. It is a lot cheaper than the old school implementation and one of the best features is that it can be implemented on any device e.g. smartphone application, web browser etc. as providers are providing SDKs and APIs for their service.
This is an extract of a report I made while obtaining a 1:1 in BSc (Hons) Software Development & Computer Networking at Cork Institute of Technology. This is intended for informational purposes and not to be used for plagiarism so don’t just change the words around.
Ever hear about Porters Five Forces? See my blog about it here.