It's been a really amazing six months that has so greatly expanded my knowledge into new areas I hadn't played with before. This picture from our "VoIP Platform Overview" page perhaps best shows what I find so interesting about Voxeo's platform:
On the one hand, it's an XML-driven SIP application server... yet it's also a media server... and then there's all the speech stuff - Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text-To-Speech, etc.... VoiceXML, CCXML, CallXML... and then it's a conferencing server... all based on SIP and using things like ENUM and so much more.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects for me is that on one level we are customer-focused working with individual developers to help them learn to build voice applications. But then on the back-end we have this massively-scalable, redundant hosting infrastructure and we are among the largest consumers of SIP trunks in North America. (And constantly in need of more - a colleague of mine is tasked nearly full-time with working with carriers to find more SIP trunk capacity!)
So it's fun for me to go to an IETF standards meeting because on the one hand I'm interested in SIP as it relates to end users and end user applications, yet on the other hand I'm interested in all the SIP peering standards and other efforts which make it easier for us to connect into the "cloud" of SIP service providers out there. So I get to look at the small end and the massively large end. For a guy interested in SIP, it's pretty wild.
It's also very cool to be part of an organization that has been working with many aspects of what we are now calling "cloud computing" since long before that label came into fashion. Voxeo is all about moving your voice applications into the cloud. Being able to access them from wherever. Whenever. So as there is all this newfound interest in moving computing into "the cloud"... that's where we already are. The challenge now becomes one of learning how to have our "cloud" interact with all the many other "clouds" out there. (And yes, we do have a premise product, too, for customers that for various reasons do not want to push their apps into the cloud - but the hosted version came first by many years.)
Beyond all the technology, it's also been great to get back into a "startup" mindset. Even though Voxeo has been around since 1999, it still retains so much of the passion and drive of a startup. (As well as some of the fun aspects- in Orlando they even have a barista and coffee bar!) There are a great many opportunities to participate in growing the company. The management is incredibly open with employees, too, which is wonderful to be involved with... and there's just some really great people inside the company! (And hey, we're hiring!)
So what are some of the other things I've learned in the past six months?
- Call Control XML (CCXML) is one of the most under-appreciated standards out there (and something I'll be writing about more). It basically lets you put an XML layer on top of SIP and, well, since all those web application tools speak XML it opens up all kinds of opportunities.
- WordPress Mu can be used to build a corporate blog portal (blogs.voxeo.com) - that's been both fun and a great learning experience.
- It absolutely scares me that I now know my way around downtown Orlando and to and from the Orlando airport.
- There is more to "Orlando" than simply "The Empire of the Mouse" and downtown Orlando is a rather cool place to be.
- JetBlue's direct flights from Burlington, VT, to Orlando are a truly wonderful addition that I will miss when we move to N.H. (although I understand Southwest has direct flights from Manchester).
- It is very cool (although sometimes admittedly strange) to have a manager who blogs and twitters and generally "gets" the value of social media.
- It's nice to be in a company in the telecommunications/VoIP space that is... (gasp)... profitable!
- I freely admit that ever since getting our corporate laptop, the Apple MacBook Pro, I have become a Mac fanboy!
- It's wonderful to be in a company with a strong developer focus that gives away free versions of its software for developers to use. I just really happen to like the model... mostly because you get to be surprised by the very cool and sometimes offbeat things that people will do, simply because you give them the tools. Creativity is an amazing thing to nourish.
All in all, I'm not entirely sure how six months flew by... but it's been a great block of time and I'm looking forward to the next six months and many more beyond that. (And no, I'm not just writing that because my boss may read my blog!)
P.S. Did I mention that we're hiring?