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I Thought Cloud Meant No Hardware and No Software?

Natterbox Team


CLOUD. Cloud? Cloud! I think everyone resolutely agrees cloud is the future. In fact, writing that sentence already feels a little antiquated. We could have all agreed that cloud was the future back in 2010. Now we are nearing the end of 2017, cloud is a certainty. The debate pretty much feels like it is over.

Except no one, it seems, has told the telecoms market.

Before the inevitable backlash in the comments section, I want to clarify my definition of Cloud.

  1. A Cloud system has no hardware or software on site.
  2. A Cloud system is hosted in multiple data centers and has global reach.
  3. A Cloud system needs to have active-active redundancy.

Using the above definition, taking a single server, throwing it into a DC somewhere then connecting a couple of customers to it, is NOT a cloud telecoms system. At best it is a Hosted service (there is a difference between hosted systems and cloud systems) at worst it is an A-level computer science project.

We could have all agreed that cloud was the future back in 2010. Now we are nearing the end of 2017 and cloud is a certainty. Except no one, it seems, has told the telecoms market.

The state of cloud in telecoms vs non-telecoms

Let’s look at some non-telecoms clouds and see how they match up to the three rules above.

  • Salesforce – A True Cloud! No hardware or software, multiple data centers, global reach and full redundancy.
  • Amazon Web Services – Another True Cloud! No hardware or software, multiple data centers, global reach and full redundancy.
  • Google Docs – Again, it’s a true Cloud! No hardware or software, multiple data centers, global reach and full redundancy.

Now let’s take a look at some of the Cloud PBX systems out there. Well, they don’t stack up so well.

Firstly (and the most important) rule of cloud – No hardware or software on site. That’s a problem for phone systems. After all, you need to make and receive calls. Traditionally, these are either physical desk phones or softphones, installed onto the user’s computers. Straight away we are failing the cloud test.

Why is the no hardware/no software rule of cloud so important? It’s all to do with effort. Imagine having to physically wire in 100 desk phones into an office or install and configure software onto 100 machines? Then you have to support and maintain them in the face of every user making a reasonably concerted effort to break them. A PBX system with onsite hardware/software is not a Cloud PBX system.

Here at Natterbox, we have been thinking about this for quite a while. There are a few Cloud PBX companies out there who, like Natterbox, have items 2 and 3 ticked on the Cloud service test. But no one seemed to have an answer to item 1. We absolutely wanted to get away from on-site hardware and software. But how? After all, you have to be able to answer a phone call on something.

So we have done something new. We have taken our Salesforce CTI adaptor combined it with our own, bespoke WebRTC implementation. What does this mean? It means that Salesforce is now your telephone! Log into Salesforce and you get the Natterbox CTI adapter:

Easy to use and powerful. But there are many CTI adapters on the market, what makes this one different? Well, this one is actually a full telephone. All you need is a PC with a microphone and speakers and you are in business. No need to install any software on the machine. Natterbox have implemented the audio stream directly into Salesforce.

So what does this mean for refreshing my telecoms system? Well, the deployment now becomes:

  1. Buy Natterbox service.
  2. Turn on Natterbox components in Salesforce (all available via the Salesforce App Exchange)
  3. Select what users you want to use Natterbox
  4. Next time the users log into Salesforce, they are automatically logged into Natterbox CTI and presented with their telephone.
  5. Done.

So what are the positive implications for me if I use Natterbox?

No more re-cabling the office for desk phones, no annoying bits of software to install. This is especially good news for companies with multiple offices as there is no need to do anything on site.

It is worth noting that this ease of setup does not come at the expense of functionality. The entire service is run by the Natterbox Cloud PBX platform which has been powering our enterprise clients for over 7 years. All the contact centre, IVR, Reports, Recording and advanced routing Natterbox has been offering for years is still there but it’s also now configured directly though Salesforce.

And what about people who don’t use Salesforce? Natterbox has a standalone webphone too, that is accessed through your web browser. Non-Salesforce users still get the same Cloud PBX experience as Salesforce users.

Here at Natterbox, we are looking for new ways to embrace the cloud. We strongly believe that telecoms does not need to be behind the curve when it comes to cloud. All the problems that make refreshing your telecoms system hard can be solved. Sometimes it just takes a new way of looking at things. There is still a way to go but the new Natterbox Advanced Voice Services for Salesforce means we are taking bold steps into the era of ‘true’ Cloud PBX.

James Radford – Product Manager