Moving beyond telephone numbers

By eweek  |  Posted 2008-03-21 Print this article Print


The technology here is fascinating. It reminds me of the early days of the Internet. There were lots of different HTTP servers, everybody wrote user exits [and] no applications were portable anywhere else. Everything was unique: vertical, siloed application development. We've seen the platforms, whether it's Forterra, Metaverse or Linden Labs. What we haven't seen yet are discussions around open standards and how these things are going to interoperate with each other. These are preconditions to how these things are going to take off in business.

Do you see the emergence of hypercommunications, a layer in VOIP (voice over IP) that will abstract numbers of the people we connect to so we don't have to constantly look up numbers and program them into phones? Will we stop associating people and devices with numbers?

The Sametime Unified Telephony product that Bruce [Morse, vice president of unified communications at IBM,] was talking about is a piece of middleware that sits on top of your existing telephony environment.

What it does is federate all your different systems, both public and private, and allows you to set up profiles and rules of your preferences and ties them to the awareness capabilities in Sametime. So you can set a rule that says when Sametime says I'm in a meeting, I want all of my calls routed to voice mail; I don't want my phone to ring. When I'm away from my desk, I want my calls automatically transferred to my cell phone.

During business hours, I want my office phone to ring. After business hours, I want my home phone to ring. Those are just rules you set up. When I'm trying to reach you, I click on your name to call you. The system figures out what numbers to use, and I don't have to know numbers anymore. That's the beginning of what you're talking about, but I still have to set up the rules.

There's still a number associated with it, though.

There's still a number underneath the covers, but the reality is, there's probably always going to be a number underneath the covers if you're going to call the traditional telephony environment, right? Because at some point, it's got to be translated into a binary string that knows how to flip the right switches in the routers that get it to the right phone.

The idea is that end users should never have to know those numbers. It's about hiding the complexity from the end user. The simpler you make things for end users, the more complex the infrastructure gets on the back end because it's masking all the complexity and creating a level of abstraction away from infrastructure for the end user.


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