OTF — The Alternative Beyond S.100
There is a better alternative. OTF offers an solution with low investment hurdles, the broadest addressable markets, and strategic control perhaps greater than in-house development (which is often severely constrained by manpower, investment and time-to-market obstacles).
OTF is a Commetrex software product that allows computer telephony OEMs to reduce in-house development investment and still maintain control of their strategic product platform. As a vendor-neutral S.100-compliant kernel, OTF can be extended by the OEM or third-party developers to support multi-vendor system resources and client APIs. Client APIs can be both S.100 compliant and proprietary. Plus, OTF includes a comprehensive, open-architecture signaling protocol which allows the OEM to easily implement complex switching functionality, even when system resources are furnished by different vendors. OTF is finally opening computer telephony’s efficient value-adding market structure to complex switching applications.
Is this different and better for the CT OEM? The short answer is yes. But to truly understand how and why, it’s necessary to compare what S.100 offers against what the industry’s OEM’s need to move to a higher level of media integration, system size, switching functionality, and vendor independence. Let’s look at the needs of the CT OEM in this age of client-server architectures and media and function integration.
In years past, the only way an OEM could control its platform was to divert resources away from its primary value-creation mission to develop the underlying platform. Of course, prior to the availability of value-adding multi-line voice boards an OEM had no choice but to develop a proprietary system platform. That’s why the messaging-system companies that entered the market before 1984 (VBX, Octel, Centigram, etc.) all had to develop their own. But with the market demanding integrated-media solutions, the scope of the technologies is simply too great today for “home-grown” solutions. But how does the OEM bring the full gamut of media and switching technologies to bear on its system, yet still maintain control of its strategic platform? The answer is through standardized value-adding interfaces.
Ideally, today’s OEM will have the following strategic advantages:
- Control of strategic platform
- Multi-server multi-client system configurability/architecture
- Multi-vendor programmable switching
- Best-of-breed integrated media
- Best-of-breed hardware
But today’s market presents a far-from-ideal situation for the OEM. Every vendor of a multi-line system resource board, be it voice, fax, speech recognition, or network interface, requires that the OEM purchase a proprietary software environment to access the board’s functionality. So the system developer is forced to master the complexities of the software environment of multiple vendors — all on the same system. Applications from multiple vendors cooperating on the same system is a distant reality. True client-server systems have yet to be deployed. What’s more, the distributed-switching model of MVIP, SCbus, and H.100 makes realizing the ease-of-use of the products of the “programmable switch” vendors only a hoped-for ideal in the CT “space”.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Two things are needed: a standard specification for a computer telephony operating environment, and a vendor-neutral implementation. The ECTF’s S.100 specification is a good step toward the first; Commetrex’ OTF adds the second. Moreover, OTF goes beyond simply offering a vendor-neutral implementation of the S.100 kernel. It adds a comprehensive signaling protocol and a centralized connection management and call routing facility which makes developing complex switching systems, such as PBXs and ACDs, economically feasible.