Posts Tagged 'SMS'

April 10, 2013

Plivo: Tech Partner Spotlight

We invite each of our featured SoftLayer Tech Marketplace Partners to contribute a guest post to the SoftLayer Blog, and this week, we're happy to welcome Mike Lauricella from Plivo. Plivo is an open communications and messaging platform with advanced features, simple APIs, easy management and volume pricing.

Company Website: http://www.plivo.com/
Tech Partners Marketplace: http://www.softlayer.com/marketplace/plivo

Bridging the Gap Between the Web and Telephony

Businesses face a fundamental challenge in the worlds of telephony and messaging: Those worlds move too slowly, require too much telecom knowledge and take too long to adopt. As a result, developers often forgo phone and SMS functionality in their applications because the learning curves are so steep, and the dated architecture seems like a foreign language. Over the last twenty years, the web has evolved a lot faster than telephony, and that momentum only widens the gap between the "old" telecom world and the "new" Internet world. Plivo was created to bridge that gap and make telephony easy for developers to understand and incorporate into their applications with simple tools and APIs.

I could bore you to tears by describing the ins and outs of what we've learned about telephony and telecom since Plivo was founded, but I'd rather show off some of the noteworthy ways our customers have incorporated Plivo in their own businesses. After all, seeing those real-world applications is much more revealing about what Plivo does than any description of the nuts and bolts of our platform, right?

Conferencing Solution
The purest use-cases for Plivo are when our customers can simply leverage powerful telephony functionality. A perfect example is a conferencing solution one of our customers created to host large-scale conferences with up to 200 participants. The company integrated the solution into their product and CRM so that sales reps and customers could jump on conference calls quickly. With that integration, the executive management team can keep track of all kinds of information about the calls ... whether they're looking to find which calls resulted in closed sales or they just want to see the average duration of a conference call for a given time frame.

Call Tracking
Beyond facilitate conference calls quickly and seamlessly, many businesses have started using Plivo's integration to incorporate call tracking statistics in their environments. Call tracking is big business because information about who called what number, when they called, how long they talked and the result of the call (sale, no sale, follow up) can determine whether the appropriate interaction has taken place with prospects or customers.

Two Factor Authentication
With ever-increasing concerns about security online, we've seen a huge uptick in developers that come to Plivo for help with two factor authentication for web services. To ensure that a new site registrant is a real person who has provided a valid phone number (to help cut down on potential fraud), they use Plivo to send text messages with verification codes to those new registrant.

Mass Alert Messaging
Because emergencies can happen at any time, our customers have enlisted Plivo's functionality to send out mass alerts via phone calls and SMS messages when their customers are affected by an issue and need to be contacted. These voice and text messages can be sent quickly and easily with our automated tools, and while no one ever wants to deal with an emergency, having a solid communication lifeline provides some peace of mind.

WebRTC
An emerging new standard for communications is WebRTC — open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities. WebRTC make communications a feature of the Web without plugins or complex SIP clients. Plivo already supports WebRTC, and even though the project is relatively young, it's already being used in some amazing applications.

These use-cases are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how our customers are innovating on our platform, but I hope it helps paint a picture of the kinds of functionality Plivo enables simply and quickly. If you've been itching to incorporate telephony into your application, before you spending hours of your life poring over complex telecom architecture requirements, head over to plivo.com to see how easy we can make your life. We offer free developer accounts where you can start to make calls to other Plivo users and other SIP endpoints immediately, and we'd love to chat with you about how you can leverage Plivo to make your applications communicate.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note at hello@plivo.com, and we'll get back to you with answers.

-Mike Lauricella, Plivo

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
May 9, 2012

Nexmo: Tech Partner Spotlight

This guest blog comes to us from Nexmo, a featured member of the SoftLayer Technology Partners Marketplace. Nexmo is the wholesale messaging API that lets you send and receive high volumes of SMS at a global level. In this video we talk to Nexmo CEO Tony Jamous about the benefits of Nexmo, how it came to be and the problem it solves for you.

Cutting out the Middleman with Nexmo

These days, optimizing mobile messaging deliverability comes at a price. Businesses must connect to multiple carriers, operate heavy infrastructure, and build their own data analytics. On top of that, many third-party SMS solutions require contracts, price negotiations and significant up-front costs.

Nexmo was created to eliminate the need for a business to connect to carriers or complex third party protocols through simple, powerful RESTful and SMPP APIs. Our scalable infrastructure allows you to send and receive SMS in high volumes to over 5 billion users around the world. This is a market need that hasn't been addressed, and we approached it with a few ideas in mind. If you were going to replicate the functionality of Nexmo on your own, these are the key areas you'd have to look at:

Direct to Carrier Model

With every hop, the quality of a connection has the potential to degrade, and cost inflates. Adding intermediaries in the chain also impact the granularity of collected data, such as delivery reports and reasons of failure. By reducing the number of hops to the final subscriber you'll see:

  • An improved delivery ratio and lower latency
  • Enhanced security
  • Fewer single points of failure
  • Reduced cost, less fat in the chain

With a closer position to the final carrier, a business can access more "Telco" data like phone status, whether it is ported to another network, or if it's roaming abroad. With that information, you can also make better routing decisions and ultimately see higher delivery ratios.

Get Your own SMS-Enabled Phone Numbers

We've seen in the last two years the emergence of "Over the Top" (OTT) messaging apps such as Google Voice and TextPlus. Those apps provide a virtual phone number to each user, and Nexmo behaves similarly by enabling apps to behave like a "super virtual carrier" without the need for heavy Telco infrastructure. North America is the most mature market with OTT players generating significant SMS traffic, and now these models are going abroad. We pinpointed a unique need in the value chain:

  • Source virtual phone numbers from global carriers
  • Build the business models that protect carriers' interests without eliminating the opportunity for innovative apps
  • Provide the elastic and scalable cloud infrastructure for high volume two-way transactions

Nexmo approached those needs with APIs that enabled app developers to search for available phone numbers, provision new numbers and cancel numbers they weren't using any more. It doesn't take days or weeks to launch in a new market ... Apps can launch in a new market in a matter of hours with minimal upfront investment!

Improve and Track Deliverability

Enterprises and developers have shifted the focus in the buying process. They are looking for more transparency and accountability, so tracking and monitoring hundreds, thousands or even millions of messages can be of utmost importance.

For every SMS sent, the Nexmo API provides a detailed report of delivery. We push this data into the cloud in real time, displayed in two ratios:

  • The Success Ratio: The percentage of message received by the phone. This ratio measures how well traffic is performing.
  • The DLR Ratio: The percentage of messages with a delivery receipt. This ratio tracks infrastructure and route performance.

Follow the Life of a Message from the Cloud

Most B2C services and resellers that send millions of SMS for things like alerts, phone verifications and access codes can get swarmed when it comes to user support. We know that's an intimidating prospect for any business looking to add SMS functionality to their app or platform, so we let our customers follow the life of a message from the cloud and gather more information about it. Some of the information we've found most helpful to track:

  • How fast was the message was delivered?
  • Was the phone available for receiving SMS?
  • Did the user enter the correct phone number?

Keeping an eye on these basic kinds of stats reduces the pain of supporting a large user base and enables your support staff to answer questions quickly because they have a good foundation of information.

Receive Outstanding Support

Building a customer centric culture is a sustainable competitive advantage. It is even more meaningful in a commoditized, price-driven industry like wholesale telecom. If you're going to approach the world of SMS messaging and deliverability, the need for outstanding support is even more urgent because, given the nature of SMS messaging, results are expected immediately.

When we started Nexmo, we knew that, and I'm proud to report that we constantly score over 95% in customer satisfaction, and we've noticed a few tricks that have helped us maintain that level of support:

  • Hire the right people: Empathy and service mindset are more important than technical skills
  • Provide self-help tools and open knowledge bases: Customers appreciate finding solutions by themselves
  • Measure help-desk performance and constantly improve: KPI includes first meaningful reply time, resolution time and satisfaction ratio.

We hope these tips can help you build on your existing support or give you a jumping-off point if you're just getting started.

There is so much more I could tell you about our experience in building Nexmo into the platform it is today, but it's a lot easier for you to just see for yourself. If you're interested in learning more about Nexmo, visit http://nexmo.com, sign up, and be ready to go live with us in a matter of minutes ... And to make it even easier, you can use the free credits we provide to give the platform a test drive.

If you've been intimidated by the daunting task of knocking on the doors of telcos and carriers to get easy-to-use and easy-to-track SMS functionality in your app, Nexmo can save you a lot of headaches.

-Tony Jamous, Nexmo

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
April 9, 2008

Technology - 1 Day

Here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy!

6:10am – Alarm clock goes off. No, I don’t have one of the easy-wake "light up your room slowly" Hammacher Schlemmer alarm clocks. I have the old school buzzer that bounces you off the ceiling. I suppose this is old technology but no servers needed. No kudos here.

6:11am – After wiping the gritty stuff the sandman left in my eyes away, I reach for my Blackberry. We outsource our Blackberry server to our cell provider but it certainly sends me emails all night long and SMS messages, etc. All of that happens on a server somewhere in a datacenter somewhere. And you know what happens in the news when the Blackberry network is down. PANIC! So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them running!

7:00am – I hit the door and head out to the Echo. There is nothing cool about the Echo, trust me. No XM, Sirius, no Sync just good ole 103.3 sports talk with Mike and Mike. Go Cowboys! From 7am to 8am I am of course only doing two things, watching for the long arm of the law and Dryping. Along the way I pass through 3 tollbooths without even blinking because technology knows that I am there and have driven under it. RF technology is cool and if their servers were down they wouldn’t be able to charge my tolltag. Hmm….nevermind. Again, Here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps me from having to sit in the pay a buck lane.

8:00am – I am at my desk finally! Where I login to my workstation that uses servers in the background to authenticate me. The same servers then run a few scripts and I have all my data and email at my fingertips. Servers keep working in the background to deliver my email to me and allow me to IM my peeps both in and outside of the company and also give me the very needed - internet access. Here’s to you, our internal nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy!

8:01am – The internet. I feel the need, the need for the internet. In the past I can say I was a junkie. I would just type in http://www.insertacoolwordheretoseeiftheyhaveawebsite.com/ kinda junkie. Sometimes you could find some pretty interesting sites using that trick and others it would just be someone domain parking. Now it is pretty much my bank, which has a ton of servers and technology (they even just rolled out two factor authentication), ESPN.com, our internal portal, webhostingtalk, theinnerlayer, the SoftLayer forums, facebook, and of course our website. Those pages keep me pretty satisfied during the day. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them running!

8:02am – Wife calls me on my IP phone. Just to see if I am at work and what I am doing and to tell me that the dog is running in circles. She is at home with 2 kids (4 and 2) so she needs to talk to someone I guess. And you guessed it, the phone uses technology too. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps it ringing!

8:03am – Coffee, technology - yes – Servers NO! We need some coffee servers here. That is a great idea.

8:04am–11:45am – Open up about 57 different windows on my workstation and simultaneously work on all of them. If a server is down or a link is down somewhere I will know about it because I will not be able to do something…who knows what. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps the network pinging.

11:45am – Hunger pains, it’s time for lunch. Off to play some Racquetball and get a smoothie. I walk in the door and they scan my retina, wait, I mean they scan my key card and I am free to enter. If their servers or workstations were down I am sure that would be a bad day to work the front desk at a gym. Can you imagine all the "roid rage" when they turned people away. So I whip my brother (Gary) at Racquetball but you have read his blogs, did you really think he could beat me? When we were both much younger he did, then he found numbers and equations and forgot how to play. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that make sure I get into the gym semi-daily.

12:30pm – Smoothie Time – Jamba Juice is right around the corner so I grab my smoothie and wheat grass shot and it’s back to the echo. I guess a juicer isn’t really cutting edge technology.

12:45pm – Back at my desk (on time as always … of course) and it is back to the 57 windows I have open and working. I tend to not go home until I have closed every window; that is the only way I can keep up with everything I am supposed to do. I have been officially titled the “heywWouldja guy” around here.

2:45pm – Time to head home. Ha! I’m just joking, gotchya.

6:45pm – I have now had enough technology for one day so it’s back into the echo to head home. The first light I come to, I don’t dare run (speaking of lights, without technology they tend to cause accidents and flash a lot, so there are definitely servers involved with them). It has one of those schnazzy new Red light cameras. That is $75 dollars I don’t want to hand them so they can add even more of those technological light cops to another light. Feel free to let these servers go down anytime guys…We are all on the same technical team here right?

7:45pm – Back at home. I walk in to the kids attempting to beat my scores on Guitar Hero and RockBand or playing on Xbox live, a wife cooking supper and a TV with Dish Network blaring. In the other room the 7 year old is listening to Miley Cyrus ..wait, maybe it is Hannah Montana not sure, on her cheapo wanna be Ipod. I sit down in front of the laptop that is on a wireless network and check my tickets and email one more time. Sometimes Dryping gets tough on the commute home because of all the traffic so I have to catch up. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps the Xbox cool and keep the cool games coming!

9:45pm – Kids are in bed, playing not sleeping, and I settle in to watch an on demand movie instead of having to traverse all the way back to Blockbuster or wait on the next Netflix movie to arrive. They look better in HD anyway. I am assuming that guys that can keep satellites in space are pretty technical. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them flying!

Midnight – Set the non-technologically advanced alarm and pass out on the pillow.

So how much of that uses technology, servers, Datacenters, power, IP’s, DNS, etc etc. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps that keep all of this stuff up and running with very little downtime. MY hat is off to you (because I look really funny in hats!)

-Skinman

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