Interview with Jonathan Bell, VP marketing at OpenCloud

OC_logotype443x118I asked Jonathan Bell, VP Marketing at OpenCloud, some questions around TADS (Telecom Application Developer Summit), I’ll be doing this with the TADS sponsors, to understand the rich diversity of desires driving TADS, a grassroots initiative by people and businesses committed to creating a profitable and sustainable telecom application developer ecosystem.

What excites you about TADS?
Open service platforms and APIs are increasingly seen as foundations for the future for telecoms: and both get good coverage at industry conferences.  Yet application developers and their applications are what give APIs their value.  TADS is the first event that addresses telecom application development across the broadest range of competing and complimentary technologies and APIs – and it does so with the developers in attendance.

Why did you choose to sponsor TADS?
A large ecosystem of developers already has access to API documentation, development and test tools and support via OpenCloud’s website and TADS is a great way to introduce that to a wider audience of developers and operators.

However, the key reason for sponsoring TADS is that OpenCloud wanted to link arms with its competitors and contemporaries in order to promote the opportunities for developers, and the benefits for operators that arise through leveraging independent application development for innovative telecoms solutions.  It’s a win-win-win deal.

By working together can we create the critical mass necessary to realize one of the objectives of TADS: a profitable and sustainable telecom application ecosystem.  Only an independent thought-leader like Alan could bring the diverse constituencies of this ecosystem together for an open, informative, and decisive event.  We’re excited to be part of TADS.

What are the important topics you want to discuss during TADS?
There’s a lot of understanding around device-based apps, and about apps that sit on servers in the internet.  Quite often the total user experience is a blend of them both, sometimes it’s more one than the other.  However, apps can also reside in the telecoms network, directly integrated with the network elements with a richer functionality than can be exposed through external APIs.  That’s often overlooked, yet apps in the telecom network have access to capabilities that can add enormous value to a wide range of uses-cases, they are also faster, more reliable and can work ‘in the call’.  We’d like to see that topic get some air-time:  sometimes the best user-experience will need an app on the handset, a server on the internet and a little of bit of magic in the telecoms network.

An example of such a service is Bouygues B.duo.  Customers get a second number without changing thier current plan or mobile.  For customers who want to meet new people, sell a car online or if they are looking for a job but do not want to give their home number.  Customers can:

  •   Receive calls and SMS without giving their personal number;
  •   Call or send SMS at any time from your second number; and
  •   Easily manage your second line from Facebook or an Android app. In particular, you have the ability to choose who can call you and what time.

What is OpenCloud’s role in the Telecom Application landscape?
The OpenCloud Rhino family of products enable the telecoms network and its underlying elements for open, independent telecom application development.  Rhino connects into the interfaces of the network elements, and taps into the interactions between them.  It’s this raw, undiluted richness that’s exposed through a refined Java API within the develop/execute environment.  OpenCloud Rhino enables network-based apps that solve complex signalling solutions, as well as apps that deliver innovative telecoms services to end-users.

In addition to providing the network enabler, we also provide development and test tools to the developer community.  We see our role as supporting development directly as well as nurturing the ecosystem itself.  For example, our Chief Engineer & Founder, David Ferry is the co-specification lead of the JAIN SLEE expert group.

Each of the sponsors brings their unique approach to the common problem of making telecom services easy to create and embed.  This egalitarian approach of just one level of sponsorship ensures everyone is judged on their merits, rather than marketing budget.  It helps create the right environment for competitors to work together in growing this under-served ecosystem.

How long has OpenCloud been supporting telecom application development?

Ever since the company was started.  OpenCloud was founded more than thirteen years ago with the express purpose of enabling independent telecom application development.  We thought that telecom network operators would like that – and they did – our first customer was Vodafone (Spain).  OpenCloud Rhino is now installed in 50+ mobile, fixed-line and converged networks around the world.  Customers already include giants such as Telkomsel, operating groups such as Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone, MVNO’s such as Ainacom and Truphone.

We strongly recommend our customers and development partners take part in TADS and promote it across their partners.  Because its a grassroots initiative, TADS can ONLY be successful if we all make a contribution to creating a profitable and sustainable telecom application developer ecosystem.