By Carolin Nothof| A few months ago, I started to write my master’s thesis about the question whether and how it is possible for small companies to scale without investors.
This question is relevant for us at Quobis because we firmly believe in the advantages of staying independent, such as putting all our focus on our customers and our product instead of getting distracted by raising or receiving high amounts of external funding. Another advantage that we see in growing organically is that we can remain loyal to our values and make our decisions on our own.
For instance, caring for one another and caring for our customers is in our DNA. As our product manager Santiago reminded us some days ago, security and privacy are key elements in the development of communications software, and it is our responsibility towards our customers and the world we leave behind to be very conscious about this.
Luckily, we are free enough to do what feels like the right thing to do.
This is especially important for us, since many of our customers are banks or healthcare providers with very high security standards. Being independent gives us the freedom to prioritise long-term relationships with them rather than short time success and quick revenue.
From my personal point of view as a salesperson, it is my responsibility to look at different ways how I can help improve the business results of our future and existing customers. Having a company behind me that’s able to focus on customers instead of investors helps me to reach that goal.
At the same time, we know that it’s crucial to keep growing and never run out of cash, so we don’t have to go out of business.
Therefore, it is very encouraging for us to see that there are other companies that have successfully managed to bootstrap and even to scale globally on their own.
Quobis has been involved in the 5GTANGO project, that has just finished, where one of its main roles was the implementation of a Communication suite pilot to test how the 5GTANGO platform helps to deal with security, monitoring and debugging issues when scaling.
The challenge: to deploy RT communications platform over an NFV architecture
The goal of this pilot was to deploy a commercial operator real-time unified communication platform over an NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) architecture. During the deployment of a real-time unified communication system, it is necessary to deal with some difficulties related to security, monitoring, debugging, scaling, etc.
This pilot shows how Software Networks technologies, and the integrated SONATA NFV platform, in particular, can help to deal with such technical issues.
Helping telcos to scale confidently while reducing costs
Dealing with costly manual task of personalized configurations during deployments
The implementation of a real-time unified communication platform for a specific telco scenario demands a personalized configuration with a complex process for testing, monitoring and debugging the final installation. Furthermore, additional manual configuration and testing processes are required any time that scaling the system to take care of new requirements is needed. This is a time-consuming process that involves constant work over the changing conditions of the scenario, which diminishes the flexibility and efficiency of the systems and its resources.
Verification tools and Quality Assurance testing
On the other side, once the deployment is ready, it is necessary to verify that the service works properly and this typically requires external verification tools and even Quality Assurance testing for customizing some functionality.
Operating and monitoring the service during the whole life-cycle is also a relevant cost. The ability to scale-in and out the service is also complicated to implement when deploying the services in traditional platforms.
Automating processes without renounce to the flexibility to adapt to any special requirements:
But the deployment, operation, and maintenance of this kind of service is not just a time-consuming task, but it also requires well-trained staff. Automating all these processes while keeping the ability to adapt to any special requirements in terms of load and QoE is critical to reduce the go-to-market costs and meet customer expectations.
Software Network technologies and the SONATA NFV platform allow delivering improved real-time communication capabilities in the new scenarios demanded by the market as a result of the explosion of the 5G technology.
Benefits of NFV technology in real-time services
The pilot led by Quobis tested four different scenarios that showcase some of the benefits of NFV technology in real-time services:
Best-effort video-conference services: Provides best-effort real-time communication capabilities to the users to enable functionalities like video-conference, Instant Messaging (IM) and other real-time collaboration tools.
Premium video-conference services: Video-conference services are quite sensitive to some network parameters. This scenario deployed two video-conference network services with different network requirements in terms of quality of service, one requesting high QoS requirements for premium users and a second one requiring best-effort QoS for normal users.
Edge video-conference services: In some cases, it may be required to deploy video-conference services closer to the users in order to reduce the delay, since it may exceed the maximum threshold and the system may not work properly. In this use scenario, the service is improved by placing the delay-sensitive components at the edge of the network.
Video-conference scaling out/in services: This use case considers the need to increment the number of instances of some of the VNFs.
Quobis’ products have been adapted to be deployed in an NFV platform
Thanks to this project, Quobis’ products have been adapted to be deployed in an NFV platform helping enormously to break one of the barriers to entry in the new 5G market.
Quobis can easily adapt its real-time communications suit to a standard-based NFV architecture and extend its benefits and features, such as automatic deployment and straight forward setup of scale-in and out rules, to the commercial portfolio.
Possibility of easily delivering QoE-aware services in the short term. The use of the SONATA Service Platform slicing feature provides a lot of flexibility when deploying different QoS over the same physical network. Using the SONATA platform, the user will have the option to select which QoS needs by selecting an SLA for each Network Service within the Slice.
In real-time communication system implementations, it is needed to deal with some difficulties related to media traffic management which is very sensitive to network conditions and the developments added by SONATA enable the interaction with ONF Transport API depending on the QoS requirements.
Are you looking for a partner for a 5G project? Please, let us help you
Quobis is a leading European company, well-known as one of the pioneers in the deployment of WebRTC technology, after being involved in the release of the industry-first application server. Today, this technology is being used to offer advanced communications capabilities for call centers: video collaboration, multiconference, click-to-call buttons, mobile assistance or instant messaging.
The main objective of these grants is to encourage and stimulate Galician foreign trade and the internationalization of Galician SMEs. The aim is to increase the base of exporting companies and consolidate the presence of companies Galician in international markets.
Quobis has invested these financial resources to promote their webRTC powered communications platform in international markets as USA, Germany and Netherlands by participating in renowned tech events:
ITEXPO 2019 (Florida, USA): Digital transformation Happens here
Quobis launched a new product called Sippo hub, an enterprise-grade server that enables companies with customer-care applications based on multimedia real time communications to defeat the challenges of digital transformation while keeping the existing call center infrastructure.
Quobis showcased their UC solution called Sippo Collaborator. Collaborator is one of the most flexible UC tools. Based on webRTC technology, but easy to integrate with SIP based infrastructures, can bring advanced communications and collaboration tools like video, chat, screen sharing. Collaborator is used by telecommunication companies and corporations around the world, either for employee communications or customer care.
Quobis attended at the world’s biggest unified communications and collaboration event, to show how to keep enterprise communications compliance with GDPR and specific industry regulations with Quobi´s real time communications platform.
Quobis showed how to build advanced communications tools from scratch or amplifying capabilities of existing apps with Quobis` WebRTC Communications Platform and SDKs designed to easing the development process.
Meet Quobis at MWC Barcelona at Hall Congress Square, booth #CS30, to learn more about Quobis’ strategy for retail in the digital transformation era and the outputs of the latest R&D projects about 5G Technology.
Don´t miss our after work party «Quobis and Tapas» on Wednesday 26 (20:00 to 23:00) at restaurant Carlitos.
Quobis Collaborator for Retail
Quobis’ booth (#CS30) will showcase a demo of Collaborator re-designed for retail workers. Quobis Collaborator lets first-line workers be permanently connected with their peers or workers of other functional areas such as logistics, human resources, customer care…even with clients. Quobis Collaborator is also a real-time communications bridge between “offline shops” and connected clients, that brings rich communications features as video conference, instant messaging or voice IP callings just sharing a link with customers without the need of any software installation.
Network managers could easily make on-boarding of new or temporary workers without effort, even incorporating BYOD strategies. Quobis´ Collaborator provides powerful administration tools to manage user’s roles, create groups, assign features as inbound/outbound PSTN calls, chat, voice IP communications or monitoring activity of any element in the network.
Quobis, will be showcasing its collaboration solution for deskless workers at ITEXPO, held February 12-14, 2020 at Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. ITEXPO is the communications and business transformation event where influential buyers gather to make their purchase decisions. Meet Quobis at ITEXPO at booth #216 to learn more about Quobis’ strategy for retail in the digital transformation era.
Schedule a meeting at your convenience with Quobis at ITEXPO:
Iago will talk about how retail is evolving, and how flexibilization of communications is becoming a standard. How enterprises can break all communication barriers between customers and professionals just by sharing a link, without software installations or high demanding device requirements.
The communication platform that truly gives you the control
The new release of Quobis ́ Unified Communications Platform (Sippo 4.0) has been born under the commitment of giving full control of enterprise communications to whom must have it. Aiming to guarantee security, scalability, reliability and better usage of corporate communication resources as well as build new professional communications tools.
Sippo steps forward from its competitors, easing a solid and granular user policy administration (enabling or disabling functionalities by individual i.e. video calls, chats, PSTN calls), creating predefined meeting rooms for groups of frequent coworkers… , billing & cost control and usage tracking thought a brand new visual administration interface called Sippo manager.
Interoperability by design
In Sippo 4.0 interoperability between PSTN, VoIP, web and applications is warranted by default. The frontier between PSTN phone calls, VoIP and WebRTC are thinner thanks to “SIP parallel leg”, a proprietary Quobis technology that provides fully-integration with the existing assets, extending to Sippo the PBX functionalities ( group calls, incoming call transference, communication from IP-enabled phones to traditional phones…) and giving unified control of the different endpoints to network managers
Better performance with mobile native apps
Native SDK for IOS and Android grant better performance for mobile applications, delivering a seamless experience in web environments, desktop or mobile devices (Android or IOS). New possibilities for BYOD use cases are open with the new SDKs.
New instant messaging functionalities (chat) meet consumerization phenomena, bringing to the corporate user those tools already familiar and demanded, as chat history, chat groups, push notifications in addition to other popular features as sharing archives or voice and video call integration.
Enterprise compliance and security:
GDPR compliance, data protection & security by design. Sippo solutions are deployed based on customer premises, assuming at the beginning security policies. There is no dispersed «cloud data» and all information is handled into the customer network. All user data is stored at the Sippo database, no information is sent to third party services and all network requests are logged into a specific «access» log.
A new developer cloud-sandbox is also available for trials and proofs of concept with customers and partners. Try all services exposed vía APIs, build your own UC multi-device client, add features like user groups and chat history and test the new use cases that Sippo offers to leverage your customer care tools.
Just register here to try all the new features of Sippo 4.0.
The retail has its own communications challenges, and Quobis is facing some of them, particularly those that are related to workers that spend their time interacting directly with their clients around the shop.
Retail, a challenging scenario for corporate communications
Mobility, limited access to computers, short term jobs and high workers rotation, lack of time for worker onboarding process, increasing complexing of stock managing and sales (integration of e-commerce and local sales, stock distributed on different warehouses or showrooms), the need to communicate with other peers from different locations, clients or external workers frequently… All of these handicaps could be mitigated with effective real-time-communications tools embedded in mobile devices like tablets, smartphones or smartwatches.
Sippo, the real-time collaboration solution for retail
Sippo adds collaboration capabilities for every platform as a native app for the most known OS (Android, IOS, Windows, Linux, Mac), or a web add-on compatible with desktop & mobile browsers, without the need for software installation. This universal compatibility enables multiple cases of use for front-line workers as collaborating in real-time with “desk-workers”, open time-framed communication channels to interact with external employees just sharing a link, or enabling secure and managed BYOD infrastructure for occasional o part-time workers, or to agile onboarding process of new employees.
With Sippo, Quobis´ WebRTC-enabled UC suite, retailers could obtain an affordable solution for these challenges without the headaches of complex IT infrastructure. Its highly flexible API and integration capabilities allow Sippo collaborator to support environments with an existing VoIP telephony network that needs to be empowered with collaboration features, without the need for a complete replacement. For those who need a stand-alone solution, Sippo collaborator could work assuming the core functionalities of a PBX reducing the complexity of the communications infrastructure.
Friendly UX with best-of-class enterprise compliance administration
Sippo collaborator UX is truly user-friendly, easing the adoption by everyone who uses a smartphone, in addition, the back-office provides for Network Managers a strong policy administration and users activity tracking, making of Sippo an enterprise-compliance ready solution.
Sippo collaborator is used by large organizations that need to address challenges such as managing a distributed workforce with different roles and user permissions including full-time workers as well as contractors, project-based workers and part-time hires that are typically outside the scope of the IT department. Quobis’ customer base includes a large European fashion retailer that uses Sippo collaborator to extend the UC network to frontline retail workers, i.e. those dealing directly with customers in the store, using Apple iPod or any other SIM-less devices connected to store ́s WLAN.
Quobis returns to IBC to show how Real-Time Communications could revolutionize the role of the TV for the connected home and hospitality.
Connected TV is leading the connected home trend, in addition, multitasking audiences usually do simultaneous content consumption from TV and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In this context, Quobis through his proprietary technology Sippo offers an effective way to orchestrate communications from different sources (i.e: family or friends, tv shows, service providers… ) to any connected device (mobile, web, pc, doorbells, TV…).
The strategic location of TV into audience homes, opens a bunch of opportunities to create new services and to engage audiences:
Interactive TV: audiences and shows could communicate between them in real-time, using different synchronous or asynchronous streams to send diverse content to each device (i.e receiving a call from a fictional character while you are watching them making a call in the TV ), bringing exponential increasing of audience engagement, and open the door to new creative way of entertainment.
The TV has a communication hub: users have become more demanding with the quality, ease of use, and modes of communication.
Consumer-grade Smart Huddle Room: your tv always ready to have a high-quality video conference with remote peers. Easy to use thanks voice interfaces.
TV-phone and TV-doorbell: with Sippo it’s possible to attend /make calls from analog phone lines, mobile phones or operate your doorbell without moving out of your couch.
TV as message board: to receive notifications and alerts: person to person, machine to person (i.e when your washer machine or your oven ends its programs ), content to the audience (receive personalized messages from your favorite tv-shows)
Social TV: watch your favorite tv-shows with the company of remote peers.
QUOBIS was celebrating its 13th anniversary this summer. This is a special year, as we have reached the threshold of 50 employees (currently 55), becoming a medium-size company. This was a long journey since we started in 2006.
QUOBIS´ journey: from telephony engineering services to real-time communications technology provider
During these years we have focused our activities on real-time communications.
In 2006 we started to build communications platforms based on Asterisk (an open-source solution to build PBXs), for medium-sized companies closed to our headquarters.
Soon, we realized the opportunity of SIP trunking (to connect corporate PBX to telcos, instead of using legacy technologies of analog or PRI lines), where we could help to provide professional services for the integration of Session Border Controllers. This opened up the possibility of working with larger companies (including most of the top 20 companies in Spain)
We kept the activities with Asterisk and other open-source communications tools as a second line of business, focused on building media server ad-hoc functionalities for special requirements.
Early contributors to WebRTC technology: building the new standard
In 2012 we started to work with WebRTC. This was not casual, as this technology was announced as the biggest change in the real-time communication world for the last years and some vendors (including manufacturers of session border controllers) were launching solutions to interconnect the WebRTC signaling and media to SIP. As we started in the early stages of the technology, we spent some time working on standardization and we detected a business opportunity of building our own application server for WebRTC (Sippo).
A big step forward: Becoming technology owners of Sippo
This means one of the biggest challenges for Quobis, moving from a service company to develop our own products. This represented not only building a team of developers, quality assurance and product management, as we had to change our marketing and operation processes.
Growing together: from local to the global organization
We moved from a company providing service to local (mostly in Spain) companies to having a global market, making deals with partners and resellers, adopting English for communication, having a presence in worldwide events, etc.
This helped us to increase the results, incomes and team members but, at the same time, we make some efforts to maintain the philosophy of a small company. Being more than 50 is difficult, but we like to be transparent in our management, providing information about the performance of the company, the biggest challenges in the short-term, current activities and projects with customers, etc. that help all the team to be involved in the project.
After working hard, it’s time to play hard
In QUOBIS we are used to celebrating things, as we like to stop for a while for small parties (birthdays, welcomings of new employees, etc). This is something we did for the anniversary, enjoying some pastries and cakes together. This year we added a quiz based on Kahoot with some funny questions about the company and local facts. The winner won a leisure trip to a resort with his family.
In addition, we used this event to select the destination of the IX Quobis Outdoor Camp. This event is something similar to a company day but with no internal motivational speeches or so. We just travel together to a place to do an activity together.
This year we selected A Illa de Arousa, a fantastic island in one of the bays of Galicia. There, we split the team into groups of 6 in order to participate in a gymkhana with three different parts: first, we had to search, in bikes, for some hidden clues along the islands, thanks to a treasure map; second, a kayak in pairs to go to Areoso (a mystic island around 1 mile to A Illa), just to get another part of the map; third, finally we needed to find the final clue just running. In addition, we had some time to enjoy the local food in one of the restaurants.
Since Henry Ford opened the doors of his factory, innovation has been part of the manufacturing and operation process of the automotive industry. During the last years, some dramatic changes have been adopted, like the usage of electric/hybrid engines, autonomous and self-driving technologies, connected vehicles and user interactivity.
WebRTC one of the key technologies for the next generation of cars
WebRTC can be one of the key technologies for connected cars, adding a communication layer to this challenging industry.
The global market for connected cars is expected to grow by 270 percent by 2022, according to a new report. More than 125 million passenger cars with embedded connectivity are forecast to ship worldwide between 2018 and 2022,
Today, most of the vehicles include some kind of onboard computer and screen, that helps the driver to control a wide range of functions of the car, including GPS and cruise control and some indicators about the performance of the car. In addition, mobile phones can be easily connected to the car (i.e., Carplay from Apple for iOS) adding more value to the user experience. For instance, it’s possible to send and receive Whatsapp messages using voice recognition tools, with no need to touch the screen while driving.
WebRTC can be integrated into embedded devices
Today, WebRTC is one of the technologies adopted by over-the-top players and communication service providers (Google hangouts, Skype web, etc), with browser and mobile application versions. In addition, WebRTC can be integrated into embedded devices, which opens up the possibility to build new use cases in IoT, including verticals like telemedicine (adding multimedia to medical devices), intercoms, set-top-boxes, etc.
The adoption of webRTC by cars is interesting to boost user interactivity. Now, most of the onboard computers and personal mobile devices support WebRTC, so they are ready to manage real-time communications. Quobis had the chance to work in this field in the R&D project Sat2car, along with PSA Peugeot Citroen and other industry stakeholders.
Video assistance for car-sharing, car-pooling, and rental
One of the use cases consists of providing assistance and videoconference services to users of a professional or pay-per-use fleet.
WebRTC provides functionalities like audio/video conference with customer service of the car manufacturer, assurance services or fleet manager or event audio/video conference between users. This helps drivers, that are not familiar with the car, to access the support services.
Real-time communications can be also adopted for adding a supervisor mode. As an example, the driver of a fleet or car-sharing company can be contacted from a smartphone for supervision (from parents, fleet manager, end customer, etc.). In this scenario, car information (speed, GPS, load weight, etc.) and cameras can be available for communication, so car owners can have some type of control of the behavior of the driver and performance of the car. In this case, different cameras for specific zones (driver cabin, cargo cabin, etc.) can be used for supervision.
Another use case for WebRTC is an emergency call where a WebRTC client is running in the Car PC or onboard unit. As an example, the video from the car can be recorded in 5 minutes buffer mode. The driver or a crash sensor can activate an emergency call to customer service or emergencies, allowing them to have access to the video from the car and to the sensor’s information (speed, GPS, etc.) in real-time. Others (police, the insurance company,….) can receive automatically the recording of the last 5 minutes. In addition, in case of an emergency, drivers near the emergency location receive a notification to be careful or asking for help or assistance.
Assistance in case of overtakes
Another possibility is real-time video transmission to provide better assistance in case of overtakes. Imagine large vehicles or vans that could transmit real-time video from frontal camera to the onboard units of vehicles just behind in order to facilitate overtaking. For instance, large vehicles can have a stick in the rear of the vehicle to notify drivers that they provide this feature (i.e. message: “Video car enabled – use my license plate number to connect to my front camera). This connection could be automatically in the car has a camera and the truck a stick with a QR code. In any case, as this communication is critical, security procedures will be included to validate the veracity of video source and remove/reduce video delays.
WebRTC and the autonomous car
For the moment, we have been talking about traditional cars but this is even more interesting for autonomous cars. Users will be available to work from the car, so interactivity will be even more important. Provide tools for entertainment or just connectivity to work from the vehicle will be one of the demands of this new market.
There are different use cases for these vehicles. As an example, one of the use cases is when the driver recovers the car control because of working areas (or difficulties in the interpretation of video to take decisions autonomously), car information is transmitted to the central service. This video can be used as learning material, taking into account the actions of the driver.
Another possibility for connected and legacy cars are notification system. For instance, some events can be detected by the camera from the car in real-time and transmitted to a notification system that generates alarms or notifications to the drivers in the same area: traffic jams, accidents, emergency, parking availability, etc. There are some current tools to expose this type of issues (i.e. Google Maps or Waze) but they lack of real-time feedback.
Prosody is an XMPP server implementation in Lua aiming to be easy to set up and configure, efficient with system resources and easy to be extended by developers to quickly add new features or prototype new protocols.
XMPP is an open and standard-based protocol for chat and messaging. Quobis is using XMPP as it’s the best way to implement flexible and secure messaging tools, fully compliant with GDPR and with all the advanced features that today implement the leader OTT services. In addition, this opens up new possibilities to connect and federate to other messaging services.
Quobis is using Prosody to provide chat capabilities to its Sippo products. This is currently supported by Sippo collaborator and in the Sippo platforms. This allows us to add easily required features and customizations for our use cases.
The customizations that may be of interest to other Prosody users have been contributed back to the community as Prosody modules. You can find more information at: https://prosody.im/