In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell took out the first patent for the telephone. Sometime between 1936 and 1938, Konrad Zuse invented the Z1, the world’s first programmable computer. The years that followed saw constant improvements to both. In the 1960s banks of switchboard operators connected calls by moving plugs into one socket and then another. The 1950s to the 1970s were the era of the ‘big iron’, massive mainframe computers. The first personal computer was the MITS Altair 8800 in 1975. Since then there have been great advances – both computers and telephones have become more powerful, smaller and easier to use, as well as transport. However, it’s been difficult to totally remove the need to physically store equipment and servers. Cloud technology has allowed us to make some progress here in recent years, but many are sceptical about whether we will ever be able to be completely cloud-based.
At 12pm on Tuesday 13th September, Thirsk-based communications technology business, TeleWare broke a major cloud barrier. In real-time, TeleWare was able to route record and analyse a call through the Microsoft Azure cloud platform – a world-first, confirmed by Microsoft, and something that most experts believed not possible. It had been thought that attempting to use an entirely cloud-based system would result in poor call quality due to loss of data packets and latency on the line. However, TeleWare found it was possible to develop and enhance existing products to achieve a seamless call of the same quality as one using physical equipment.
Then, on Tuesday 1st November, at midnight, there was another landmark achievement. This time, TeleWare’s Hosted Service fixed-line call recording functions were completely migrated on to the Azure platform. From now on, calls will be routed through the TeleWare UK datacentres and then directed onto the Microsoft Azure cloud for recording. All call recordings will then be passed back into the TeleWare datacentres for secure and compliant storage. As a result, the dream of businesses becoming ‘100% cloud’ is one step closer.
But why should businesses be excited about this?
The benefits of the cloud are well known. They include reducing the recurring cycle of refreshing or rebuilding services in datacentres and all of the disruption and associated costs. This is achieved by taking away the need for expensive and hard-to-maintain physical servers – even if they’re hosted offsite by another company. Data can be encrypted by users and still be easily accessible. The cloud can even provide enterprise level technology to small companies with even smaller budgets. Software providers can deliver pay-as-you go solutions to help their clients get a crucial step ahead of their competitors. Even more important, perhaps, are the disaster recovery options. Hosting everything in a data centre reduces the risk of losing precious data should there be an emergency.
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Indeed, many businesses are already using Dropbox or other cloud systems to run their email and replace physical servers to provide file management that is accessible from any location. However, the vast majority of business is still done on the phone – whether it be taking and negotiating orders, dealing with customer complaints, or even talking to other members of the company.
Companies that rely on recording their calls, such as financial services, would never have been able to go completely onto the cloud. It would even have been a struggle for companies that are used to recording calls for their own purposes – be it for customer experience analytics programs or simply to make sure that precious order details aren’t lost. In fact, it was thought that the industry was not even close to being able to record a call in real time on the cloud.
Managing to take routing, recording and analysing of calls through Azure, as well as placing entire fixed-line recording functions on the cloud is truly significant. For the first time, it shows that companies can have all the functionality and quality of a fixed-line system, as well as the flexibility and benefits that the cloud brings.