I’ve been sitting in a session at ITEXPO on Applications in the Cloud. What’s striking to me is the divergence of opinion on what a cloud application is. Opinions range from IfByPhone’s Irv Shapiro talking about IVRs, to Voxeo’s Dan York talking about communications enabled business processes. Moderator David Yedwab has taken a slightly contentious position asking how this is different from Centrex, and the panelists have immediately jumped on the notion that cloud telephony is instant telephony versus the days, and weeks it takes to deploy Centrex (isn’t this a feature of IP telephony in general), and that cloud telephony is mass customizable.
Mass customization, of course, is the key to understanding the cloud telephony puzzle. As telephony becomes a web service, the speed at which innovations can be delivered accelerates. Moreover, the ability to quickly and elastically scale up or down to meet variations in demand is a critical feature of applications in the cloud.
One of the most heartening developments of the last few weeks has been the near standardization of the browser on mobile handsets. Now that virtually all of the mainstream handsets, except Microsoft, support Webkit based browsers we can expect a massive acceleration of cloud based mobile applications. The smartphone industry stands to benefit enormously as users begin to see the value and diversity of applications in this environment.
And what does that portend for the cloud based PBX industry? For communications enabled business processes? Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to ask the question.