We are showing VoipNow Automation Release Candidate at ITExpo 2010 East. In fact, we are going to release it in the next days with VoipNow Professional 2.0.4 GA. There are several important changes if we compare it with VoipNow Automation Beta, the most important being the support for Cloud Platform Bricks. This was something that we initially decided to bring in a future version of Automation, but eventually we reconsidered and decided to put it in the first public version, because there were too many changes for our customers.
What are Cloud Platform Bricks?
Cloud Platform Bricks is the API that allows the product to extend with support for different service delivery platforms like VoipNow Professional, VoipNow Core, Plesk, Open-Xchange etc. It comes with special primitives called bricks that allow the service provider to define service plans for a particular platform, provision services, charge customers for these, and suspend/terminate service.
Why we preferred to ship this in the first version?
The main reason is that would have been quite difficult for us to migrate from the simple interface we previously had to the Cloud Platform Bricks later, when the service provider has deployments. The second reason is the feedback we received from customers that was easy to understand: ‘This is very good, but I want to use VoipNow Automation for my other services as well.’ Without Cloud Bricks, the implementation of different cloud services would have been quite difficult, meaning that we would have had to disappoint many customers. I am convinced that we already disappointed some customers who eagerly waited for Automation, but unfortunately, we did not have much of a choice.
How powerful is Automation on the first release?
From the architecture point of view, I do not think that we have any competition. From the features perspective, I know software packages that are able to do more. They miss fundamental parts of Automation, but when comparing side by side they have more features. Our objective was to build a very good platform and to develop it based on customer demands, not to pack thousands of features on a common package. Your feedback in developing Automation will be highly appreciated.
How will VoipNow Automation be licensed?
You will be able to get VoipNow Automation only leased licensed, with a pay-as-you-grow licensing (price per active customer account). VoipNow Automation is not going to be available as owned license. This is a risky move for us as a company because the service provider is essentially switching risk to us as a vendor (the service provider can drop the contract with us anytime if not fully satisfied). In this case, I consider the risk to be a big opportunity, because when we provide the right support to the customer, he grows and eventually we grow.
We are thinking to offer 50 owned licenses for up to 1,000 accounts at a special price for the first 50 customers interested. We want to do this in order to sustain the customers that will most likely get us the most valuable feedback. Please comment on this post if you think this is a good idea.
We will have more stuff about Automation soon; this was just a short post from Miami.