CXTech Week 23 2022 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 23 2022 newsletter is to highlight, with commentary, some of the news stories in CXTech this week. What is CXTech?  The C stands for Connectivity, Communications, Collaboration, Conversation, Customer; X for Experience because that’s what matters; and Tech because the focus is enablers.

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Following advice, I’m including a small pitch for my consulting services in this newsletter, many readers are unaware I consult. I’m an Engineer who’s been independently consulting for a couple of decades, “I know stuff and people” 😉 Knowing stuff is important, there’s simply too much marketing BS being presented as analysis. Check out Is there money left in being Publicly Objective?

Covered this week:

  • vCon Workshop Results
  • Open Source Telecom Software Survey
  • Delft Blue Stormtroopers
  • Uptrace – bringing telecoms to open telemetry
  • Is the Ericsson Vonage Deal still on?
  • Gupshup acquires OneDirect
  • Tata Communications launches DIGO
  • Daily buys Confrere
  • Alef and the Enterprise
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

vCon Workshop Results

vCon is an open standard for conversation data. In December 2021 Thomas Howe, CTO of STROLID, introduced vCon.

On Thursday June 9th at 11AM ET / 8AM PT / 4PM UK / 5PM CET we ran a vCon Workshop. Below is the video from the event. In the above link in the title you can access the slides and summary of the event. The agenda was:

  • Welcome and Intro from Thomas
  • vCon Walkthrough from Dan and Thomas
  • Use Cases, Analogies, Strategic Importance
  • Call to Action: Please provide feedback and become a contributor.
  • Q&A

Check out the vCon github repository and get involved, it’s open to everyone.

On plans and Call to Action:

  • Please contribute to the open source vCon project. Adapters for your favorite CPaaS, UCaaS, CCaaS, programmable communications applications, analytics engines, and machine learning platforms.
  • Please support the standardization effort – this is an industry movement.
  • We plan to publish the vCon white paper by the end of June.
  • At TADSummit 2022 8/9 Nov, we have a vCon workshop covering: the latest on the project, sharing implementation and deployment experiences

Delft Blue Stormtroopers

Check out this great example of using DALL-E2 to mash-up ideas by Rodger Werkhoven. Delft Blue Stormtrooper Busts. Accuracy doesn’t matter here, a problem for many machine learning applications in telecoms.

The ability to mash-up ideas will accelerate the brainstorming phase of design by 100 fold. And more importantly, likely produce ideas that even our most fevered dreams would never countenance. Design is set for an explosion of cool new stuff!

Check out the discussion on LinkedIn from Rodger below, his excitement at using natural language to control the creative process with DALL-E2 is inspiring.

This is an important step in the evolution of metaverse. In time, personalized 3D interactive environments could be created by machine learning, these mashed up images are just a taste. No need for large teams of designers, artists, and games engineers; which limit the use cases and ownership of metaverse. We’re still a ways away from that vision, but the path is becoming a little clearer.

Open Source Telecom Software Survey

Don’t panic! This year’s survey is much shorted than those of the past 🙂

Back in 2019 I created a survey to gather people’s experiences and opinions on using Open Source Telecom Software. I share an anonymized aggregate view of the survey with those that compete the survey as soon as I have the results prepared, usually in July; and I present a summary for everyone at TADSummit in November.

Here are the surveys from 20212020 and 2019, with the results from 20212020 and 2019. Thank you for your continued support.

This year we’ve focused on general questions across DDoS, Security, STIR/SHAKEN, and some market ones. The project specific surveys change slightly year to year, so we’re taking a break this year.

Here’s the link to the Open Source Telecom Software Survey 2022.

If any question is not relevant or you have no opinion, skip it. Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions.

Uptrace – bringing Telecoms to Open Telemetry

Lorenzo Mangani and the QXIP team are bringing telecoms & telecom APIs into the open telemetry world with their new product Uptrace (https://uptrace.dev).

The goal is to break the last barrier separating telcos from the rest of the data/metrics world.

OpenTelemetry is an open source and vendor-neutral API for distributed tracing (including logs and errors) and metrics. With OpenTelemetry, you can instrument your application once and then add or change OpenTelemetry-compatible backends without changing the instrumentation.

Uptrace is a cost-effective tracing solution that helps you monitor, understand, and optimize complex distributed systems. Be confident in your production and deliver better code faster than ever.

Tracing allows you to see how a request progresses through different services and components, timings of every operation, any logs and errors as they occur. During the past decade the QXIP have created and continue to maintain open software with 20k+ stars on GitHub. Their mission is to use accumulated experience to build reliable tracing.

Is the Ericsson Vonage Deal still on?

Yes it is. The deal is now expected to close on Aug 22 because of CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ) delays. There’s no renegotiation taking place. The deal is agreed, its going to happen.

Vonage is continuing BAU, I’m seeing it invest more in online advertising of late. Though in the medium term I anticipate we’ll see gaps in its product roadmap compared to its competitors, given the management team is trapped in M&A stasis.

I’ve covered my view on the deal when it was announced last year in CXTech Week 47 2021. It’s a poor fit from a customer perspective, and from how Ericsson operates its business. But the die is cast, and in my opinion its still more likely to go through than not.

Gupshup acquires OneDirect

Gupshup, a business messaging provider that is expanding into conversation intelligence has acquired OneDirect, an AI-enabled customer service platform that provides services in South East Asia and the Middle East. The companies didn’t reveal the value of the transaction.

This follows their acquisition of AskSid, CXTech Week 16 2022, another conversation intelligence platform; and last year raising $100 million in funding at a valuation of $1.4 billion.

Tata Communications launches DIGO

Tata have launched their own hosted contact center. I’m not sure if this is a rebrand of an existing CCaaS offer, or own-built. I’m sure we’ll find our soon.

Using their words, DIGO is an “in-network, cloud communications platform to power up customer engagement for digital-first businesses. The platform offers a full suite of device-agnostic communications tools to seamlessly integrate into an enterprise’s current applications, enabling it to bring intelligent, 360-degree human-to-everything (H2X) interactions for its users.”

Daily buys Confrere

Daily is a video API using WebRTC. Varun Singh joined towards the end of last year, CXTech Week 45 2021, so they have the talent and the cash, raising $40M at the end of 2021. They reminded me of Agora.io in some ways.

Confrere is the old Appear.in team, Svein Willassen and Dag-Inge Aas. I was writing about Appear.in back in 2014 when they were demo’ed on BBC Click. Unfortunately the internet’s memory is short, so the link no longer exists. This acquisition builds out Daily’s talent.

Alef and the Enterprise

Interesting interview with Mike Mulica, CEO of Alef, “We make available APIs to enterprises so that they can get a mobile network on demand by subscribing to these APIs.” This I think positions them as a potential competitor to WG2. As WG2 is an adjunct to mobile networks, they too could offer such an API. Perhaps this would drive more revenue for WG2 than helping telcos offer more services?

Mike posits a battle for ownership over enterprise networks, “the question is which ecosystem will survive, that of the hyperscaler or that of the mobile operator?” I’m less convinced there’s even a battle. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have won in the enterprise across IT infrastructure. Mobile operators sell phones and plans with some enterprise VAS, security, reselling UCaaS like Vodafone does with Ringcentral. The overlap on private networks is niche.

Mobile operators are not going anywhere, state granted oligopolies. The likes of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon can afford to employ smart people; and with global scale buy disruptive companies. So they’re unlikely to go anywhere either.

The intersection between enterprises, carriers, and IT vendors is a high value area for start-ups like Alef and WG2 to find growth areas and be bought. It’s great to see Alef pivot to something objectively more likely to succeed, rather than telco mobile edge compute.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Pete Margaris is now Vice President Product Marketing at Balbix. Pete and I met when Lightbridge acquired his company around 2004.

Rupert Englander is now Senior Product Marketing Director at WeTransfer. We first met in 2005 when he was with Three UK, heading up their music services.

Yann Christophe is now Network Engineer chez Wifirst, a WiFi platform provider.

Doug Daniels is now VP and Head of Sales – North America – Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry at Atos. We first met when he was at deCarta back in 2006.

Abdul Razzak fis now VP of Engineering at Carsome. We firast met back in 2017 when he was with SLA Digital.

Giorgio Mihaila (ex-Webex / AWS) is now CEO of the CPaaS division of Symbio (previously known as MyNetFone). Symbio began as an Australian VoIP provider, founded in 2002, and has expanded its offer across telecoms including UC, broadband (NBN) and wholesale (resellers). In 2015 they bought Telecom New Zealand International, giving them an international footprint across the region.

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