CXTech Week 10 2023 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 10 2023 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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Covered this week:

  • Programmable Communications and CPaaS are Different
  • TADHack Open, 25-26 March, Banner
  • Sangoma still does not get open source
  • What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference
  • Omdia says, “Have an open mind about the GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative”
  • Disruptive Asia has some great posts on MWC
  • Delivering the Future of Networking with Hyper-scalable Connectivity, Liang Dong, Epsilon
  • Light Reading: MWC party goes on amid the rubble of telecom
  • Remembering Simcon3
  • Solid Analysis from Ibraheem Kasujee, Analysys Mason on MWC 2023
  • Skyvera buys Kandy’s Assets
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Programmable Communications and CPaaS are Different

Before CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) came into existence, I referred to Telecom APIs, I still run a Linkedin group about it. Telecom APIs made telecoms and communications programmable, like the web. The Web didn’t need a WebPaaS, they needed API Management. And for many enterprise comms providers, API Management maybe 80% of what they need with the addition of some partnerships, integrations, and a clear business plan. Not CPaaS.

We’ve recently seen some ‘CPaaS’ implementations winding down, or focusing on B2B rather than ‘developers’, or being relabeled, or resources being removed. It’s not that programmable communications / telecom is in decline, it’s still growing in the high twenties %, down from the 33% of the pandemic. It’s the product focus of CPaaS as the standard-way to add APIs to a communications platform has some in the industry spending more than they need and chasing too many lines of new business outside the core offer.

CPaaS is a product. However, the problem being addressed is making telecoms / communications programmable, like the web is programmable. The specific approach you take depends upon your business. Hence my realization focusing on your programmable communication needs rather than the implementation CPaaS, a software product, could avoid some of the recent challenges we’re seeing.

The silliness of OneAPI 2.0 (the GSMA’s Open Gateway Initiative) is another example of the problem. The focus on an API, worse a standard API, defocused the initiative from solving specific problems for which customers will pay. In CXTech Week 9 2023 I gave a specific example.

Given the many technical, operational and contractual differences between the telcos; the different regulatory regimes and compliance requirements. A business entity is required between the telco industry and developers/enterprises. That’s why Syniverse, Sinch, Infobip, Telesign, Kaleyra, etc exist for over a decade. OGI will not replace them. OGI could make their business a little easier, but there are more important BOSS (Business and Operational Support) issues telcos need to solve first to help them. So OGI is irrelevant for most developers.

In summary:

  • CPaaS: A software product aggregators use to expose communications APIs like Syniverse.
  • Programmable Communications / Telecoms: Making your communications / telecom solutions programmable for your customers and ecosystem partners like Twilio.

TADHack Open, 25-26 March, Banner

Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make you smile, like seeing the banner for a new TADHack, in this case TADHack Open, 25-26 March, before Enterprise Connect.

What do we mean by Open? We have stated since our founding in 2013, ‘TADHack is for everyone.’ The diversity of people involved in TADHack has improved over its 10 years, however, we can do more. TADHack is working with groups committed to increasing the influence that women have in building the technologies that shape our culture and change our world.

TADHack Open will help women, but not exclusively, demonstrate their vital contribution to programmable communications. Not only in building skills in important new technologies, but also demonstrating their abilities to industry leaders at the largest enterprise communications event on Monday 27th March, at Enterprise Connect in Orlando

We’re proud to be partnering with Ideamart for Women. We hope to see many innovative hacks from Sri Lanka. At TADSummit 2021 we had an excellent keynote on Ideamart for Women. It really is world-class.

Thank you to Radisys for making TADHack Open possible. And thank you to WebRTC.Ventures for supporting TADHack Open and providing their COO, Mariana Lopez, to support the teams remotely.

Sangoma still does not get open source

Fred Posner made a frank and heartfelt post after his Astricon 2023 experience.

Unless the open source project is the main focus of the commercial entity that supports it, or like IBM they have a strong open source process and commitment, it’s hard.

The commercial reality is Sangoma has many other lines of business to run. Open source is a distraction.

From the open source telecom software surveys, I’m still surprised at the lack of awareness across Europe of Asterisk. The community could continue to grow. Africa and Asia remain barely engaged. Perhaps like Jitsi, it needs to find a home that can nurture and grow the project? Though being frank, I’m not convinced 8X8 is its the ‘forever home’.

Across the many telecom OSS projects I see common people. Could multiple projects club together – Asterisk, Kamailio, RTPEngine, Wazo France, Drachtio / jambonz, OpenSIPS Project, etc. to create an open source telecom software gathering? I know there is always some competition between the projects, but perhaps the formula needs to change and become a more hybrid and cooperative gathering? Check out the discussion on Fred’s Linkedin post.

What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference

This is a really funny and insightful article by Chloe Condon. It captures so many of my conversations with female engineers explaining their tech conference experiences.

“So…many…dudes… oh! Is that a woman? Hmmm, no… she’s on the catering team. Oh wait! Is that another one? NOPE just a dude with a man bun.”

Chloe Condon, Developer Evangelist

Chloe shared some of her experiences:

  • Most People Assume I’m Not a Developer
  • Bathrooms Are Empty
  • The After Party Can Get Awkward
  • You’re Probably Not Going to Get Any Shirts in a Women’s Size

On the last point I always advise sponsors to include children’s sizes, even a adult small can be too big for some women. Plus my son has worn t-shirts from my events since he was 3 years old, and still does today at 13. Today he’s wearing his SIPVicious t-shirt, no photo, teenagers…

Chloe concludes with: “The more women who attend these events, the more we’ll have people thinking outside the box when it comes to “what a developer looks like”, the more role models we have for young women (like Shilpa), and the more female allies we’ll have at these events. Blog about it, tweet about it, and use #ilooklikeanengineer or #changetheratio hashtags while you’re at it. Thinking about attending a conference, but afraid of feeling out of place? DO IT. You belong there, and your gender should not dictate that.”

Don’t forget to register for TADHack Open, we’re proud to be partnering with Ideamart for Women to improve the ratio!

Omdia says, “Have an open mind about the GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative”

The ‘industry insider analysts’ try to keep reality at bay from the GSMA’s OneAPI 2.0.

I haven’t done a full rant post on OneAPI 2.0, in part because the world seems divided between those that choose to believe and those that choose to think on this topic. Instead I’ve provided focused feedback on topics, for example CXTech Week 9 2023. And added comments on various Linkedin posts. There was one on how telcos can monetize the Metaverse. Let’s ignore the broken thinking in the title, a better title would be, ‘How can Telcos add value to Metaverses for which someone will pay?’

But back to the post as SKT’s Ifland was raised as an example of “see, telcos can be successful in the Metaverse.” Let’s remove the marketing words. Ifland is a 3D online game, like Roblox, which uses the hook of K-pop to draw people in. This is the games industry, if they needed telcos, we’d already see examples from fixed broadband. Remember turbo-boost in the cable industry? It was like a QoS API before APIs were in fashion. The games industry did not adopt it, and neither did customers.

Ifland’s distribution is by Apple and Google. In Roblox the curse of lagging has more to do with the end devices (Android in particular) and the game’s server. Not the network. Subspace tried to find a place in this gaming ecosystem and was unsuccessful, network lag is tertiary to all the other sources of lag. Subspace is yet another example from the past we should learn from. I wonder if anyone working working on OneAPI 2.0 has even heard of Subspace or Cable Turbo-boost?

SKT’s success with Ifland has everything to do with the Ifland team’s skills in marketing and game development; and next to nothing to do with it being a telco.

Disruptive Asia had some great posts on MWC

MWC 2023: the new normal seems a lot like the old normal

Seeing both open APIs and Nokia at MWC illustrates somehow a paradox of the telecoms world. Officially, big companies like to emphasize the importance of partners, developers and openness. But in practice, they have quite little to offer. 

Jouko Ahvenainen, Disruptive.Asia

GSMA has universal open APIs if you want ’em

Naturally, they’d much rather have a Twilio-type model where their app works with every network in the world

John C. Tanner, Disruptive.Asia

John understand it’s so much more than just an API. If only the GSMA could.

Delivering the Future of Networking with Hyper-scalable Connectivity, Liang Dong, Epsilon

As the mobile telecom industry gets excited about NaaS (Network as a Service), here’s an excellent TADSummit presentation from Liang Dong from Epsilon Telecommunications, a KT company on NaaS in the fixed industry from a couple of years ago. Here’s the link to the TADSummit session, which includes his slides.

Light Reading: MWC party goes on amid the rubble of telecom

Others have noted the similarity between Open Gateway and OneAPI, a GSMA-backed initiative that faded ignominiously after its launch ten years ago. Its goal? “Using the OneAPI Exchange, developers can access network APIs using open and standardized web technologies,” said the GSMA’s 2013 press release. Open Gateway sounds like a resurrection attempt.

Morris Lore, LightReading

Remembering Simcon3

Google photos reminded me of being in the UK 3 years ago for Simcon3 with a picture of my breakfast before the event. Here is my review of Simcon3.

For me, the most value I gained from the event were the many conversations with Simwood’s customers. Understanding the evolution of their businesses, how they view the enterprise communications market and its trajectory, the operational problems they face, and why they’re working with Simwood.

Clearly there’s a lot of love in the room for Simwood 😉 Also the learning I gain at customer events goes far beyond what I gain at the big ‘destination’ industry events which are packed with marketing-speak.

Solid Analysis from Ibraheem Kasujee, Analysys Mason on MWC 2023

Ibraheem’s focus is IoT and Private 5G Networks. Paraphrasing his summary: after the hype, IoT over mobile is getting its act together. While 5G private mobile networking is mostly hype.

Skyvera buys Kandy’s Assets

Back in 2020 we covered in CXTech Week 32 2020. American Virtual Cloud Technologies (a SPAC, enough said…) bought Kandy (UCaaS, CPaaS, CCaaS) from and Ribbon Communications for about $113M. Back in 2017 Kandy presented at TADSummit with Five9.

In January of this year AVCT announced its bankruptcy. And this month Skyvera (holding company that also owns Totogi) announced it had bought the assets for an undisclosed sum. The rumor is about $6m in cash.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Sara Steele Wollesen is now Sr. Channel Marketing Manager at Vonage. Previously she was with Intelepeer.

Jamie Ryan is now Vice President, Product Management at Boomi. I’ve known Jamie since his time at Layer 7, over 10 years ago.

Tom Sharkey is now CTO at OV. We first met when he was with Partitionware. And he lives on the Isle of Man, where I was born.

Calvin Chan has an additional position as Assistant Provost at Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). I’ve known Calvin for a decade, since his time at the IDA.

Pierre Hunter is now Snr VP Sales at EZDRM. I’ve known Pierre since his time at Verimatrix.

Abdul Karim is now  UI UX Designer at Mugli.

Bill Tickner is now Global Strategic Account Director at Dynatrace.

Carl DCosta has joined Koerber Supply Chain Software as Global Partner Officer. I’ve known Carl since he joined Oracle.

Rob Malcolm is now GM of Ad-Tech Business Unit at Imagine Communications. We met while he was with Sinch.

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