In the latest installment of our series of conversations with industry leaders, we’re speaking with Chris Matthieu, Director of Business Development at Voxeo Labs. Voxeo is one of the recognized leaders in hosted telephony services. We spoke to him specifically about Voxeo’s Tropo offering which is a cloud based telephony API and platform.

  • This may be elementary, but we find that people still vary on this.  How do you define the cloud?

“The definition that I find effective is the one you can find on Wikipedia, ‘Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).’

Under the larger term cloud, you’ll find that people are talking about the public cloud, and then some are talking about the private cloud, and finally some are talking about a hybrid cloud.

When working with, you’re working with the shared public cloud. Tropo itself is built on Voxeo’s PRISM platform, which is a private cloud model.

Organizations can create their own private cloud deployments under contractually organized agreements, and there is a market for this. The Hybrid cloud is interesting because it allows organizations to integrate private cloud deployment with the public cloud to provide dynamic scalability. For example, if you’re generally well-served by your private cloud, but you have a failure, or a spike in demand, the system could roll over to the public cloud seamlessly. The public cloud becomes an available contingency for disaster recovery, failover, or overflow. There are many potential benefits.”

  • What is unique or beneficial about the combination of TELEPHONY and the cloud?

“Telephony is an ideal example of a market that’s tailor-made for cloud computing. At the enterprise level, systems are designed for peak port usage, so they’ll be ready for the highest possible demand. On top of that, when you factor in high availability (HA), where you double the number of servers, you end up with overbuilt systems. A flexible platform like Tropo solves the problem of maintaining more system than you need.”

  • This allows for a kind of just-in-time computer sourcing.

“Yes, you could look at it that way.”

  •  This raises an interesting issue.  By creating a system that dynamically provides access to telephony trunks, you reduce the demand for dedicated trunks.  Your average premise IVR has at least one T1 installed.  You’re saying with Tropo, I might not need that anymore.  What do the carriers think of you? 

“Yes it’s interesting, but we also make it easier to create applications, so in the end we’re driving a lot of traffic to the carriers, and they are fine with that.  The carriers have come a bit late to the table on cloud computing, and we’ve been able to partner successfully with them. Tropo is built on Voxeo’s PRISM platform, and we are ready for anyone to white-label our solution. With that, there are carriers that are using our products as their own.”

  • What’s the biggest fear about the cloud from your customers? 

​”Virtually all organizations have the same concern, and that is availability and quality of services.

The Tropo offering is tailored to this need. The platform itself is built to be highly available. For example, each toll free number is provisioned on multiple carriers. The Tropo network is distributed across multiple carriers and data centers, so that even if an entire data center goes down, calls won’t be dropped. Regarding quality, the Tropo network is actually an improvement in many cases. Since all the traffic is SIP, and Voxeo’s data network is more highly optimized for VOIP traffic, many users find that the call quality on Tropo is better than the call quality on the PSTN.

On secure (private) cloud systems, Voxeo is offering 100% guarantee of uptime, which speaks for itself. Voxeo is being used by half of the Fortune 100 companies, and an optimized Voxeo server can handle 20,000 calls simultaneously, which is remarkable.”

  • What’s the biggest misconception people have about the cloud?

​”There’s so much buzz about the cloud. The biggest misconception is that they can throw a million unplanned calls at the system without planning. While the platform is extremely flexible and scalable, it’s not infinitely so. Planning and growth scaling is required. If you’re going to spike 1000 calls, no problem, but if you want to increase by 50,000, you might want to call us and consider the dedicated offering.”

  • Your website presents the quote “Genesys and Voxeo are in Datamonitor’s ‘shortlist’ category and are considered to be the current leaders in the IVR market.” This is notable both because it’s high praise for your product, but also because, even as competitors, Genesys and Voxeo work together. Would you care to comment?

“Telco is what, a trillion dollar business?  There’s revenue to spread around… Voxeo chairs the W3C boards for VXML and CCXML standards and Genesys is a member of those boards as well.  All telephony platform providers are working together at some level to ensure healthy standards and future interoperability.  One major difference between the companies is that Voxeo focuses on providing platforms and APIs.  We have over 250,000 developers in our community. We don’t compete against our developers.”

  • So what’s next for Voxeo?  

“What we’re really excited about is Rayo (pronounced Rye-O). We feel this is going to change the game for creating voice and messaging applications that behave in an asynchronous manner. We’re imagining a new breed of applications where developers can create flows that aren’t limited by the traditional sequential sequence of interactions that have come with the telephony interface all these years. Most importantly, though, Rayo, like Tropo, will be open source, enabling the whole community to embrace the new paradigm.”

  • Thanks Chris!