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Disrupting the SDP market with Open Source Telco PaaS – An interview with the Restcomm team

The service delivery platform market is going to see disruptive players in 2012. One of these offerings is Restcomm that offers an open source Telco PaaS solution that will get to version 1.0 in March 2012. I interviewed the director of Cloud Engineering of Telestax, Thomas Quintana, who is responsible for driving Restcomm within the Mobicents community.

What is RestComm?

RestComm is what I like to call a “Web Driven Communications Platform”. In order to understand what I mean it’s useful to have a basic understanding of how RestComm works. When RestComm receives a phone call for example, it calls out to some resource on the web to instruct it on how to handle a call. In turn the resource itself can turn over control of the call to other resources on the web. Hence my description of RestComm.

Who is the target user? 

In developed markets that is an interesting question because the target user has always been web developers but we have noticed that the RestComm instruction set maps nicely as a DSL (Domain Specific Language) on top of development platforms such as Java, Ruby, Python, etc. This in turn has made mobile applications developers and desktop applications developers target user communities as well.

In emerging markets the target users are operators who want to deploy a PaaS (Platform as a Service) and provide services to its customers and SME’s

What is the RestComm Vision?

The RestComm vision is to offer a 100% open source and service provider agnostic web driven communication platform to the open source community. Woah, that’s a mouth full 🙂

What is on the direct roadmap for RestComm?

There are a quite a few goals on the RestComm road map but I will list the ones I think are currently most important:

  • 100% Twilio API compatibility (Available as of ALPHA 2 which will debut in a few of weeks)
  • 100% Tropo API compatibility
  • Monitoring support
  • Web based management interface for easy management
  • Support for other communications networks such as Skype and Google Talk

Will RestComm also support non-REST APIs, e.g. Javascript?

Yes, as a matter of fact most if not all of the Twilio wrappers will work with RestComm with very little effort (possible as of ALPHA 2). Usually all it takes is just pointing the API at your RestComm server.

When will release 1.0 be available?

The RestComm FINAL release is scheduled to be available in March. 

What will be in release 1.0 that is currently not there yet?

We are doing a lot of work on RestComm based on community feedback from early adopters so it’s hard to tell everything that will make it in to the FINAL release but the following are things that will definitely be present.

  • A super set of the Twilio API to support functionality currently not covered by the Twilio API but requested by our development community (e.g. faxing, call leg and conference room recording, etc.).
  • JDBC and MongoDB support (plus it’s very easy to add additional back-ends)
  • Support for any SIP origination/termination provider
  • Support for more international SMS aggregators
  • High Availability support
  • and many more things stay tuned 😉

Below are two features that we would like to have available by the FINAL release but are still investigating.

  • RestComm application Fail-Over support
  • Very large self organizing conference rooms (1000+ participants)

How will RestComm scale? 

This question is a bit difficult to answer because RestComm’s ability to scale is limited only by the infrastructure that it runs on. In order to answer this question I would like us to assume that most of the RestComm deployments will be on private/public clouds with sufficient resources. Now that we have some context RestComm scales horizontally on two layers the RestComm interpreter itself and the media gateways. Each RestComm interpreter can drive tens to hundreds of media gateways providing scaling for media and by placing SIP load-balancers in front of the RestComm applications servers the interpreter itself can be scaled horizontally. We are currently investigation media gateway fail-over where if a RestComm interpreter becomes unavailable the other interpreters in the cluster will take over its media servers and continue executing the RestComm applications.

In order to provide a demonstration on how to accomplish large scale scaling the Mobicents team will publish a paper on how to deploy RestComm on the Amazon EC2 cloud with hundreds of instances once we reach our BETA release in February.

Will there be a GUI management interface?

Yes, we are planning on releasing a web based management interface but we are currently focusing on providing a stable release. 

Will there be a monitoring interface?

JMX and SNMP support are currently available for the Mobicents Sip Servlet Container which RestComm sits on and that is how we monitor RestComm for now. In the future RestComm will provide its own monitoring interfaces.

Will Telestax offer support/SLAs for RestComm?

TeleStax enables Telecommunication Service Providers and Enterprises to create scalable communication applications based on Open Source and Open Standards. Therefore, TeleStax will provide supported versions of the “RestComm Platform for Production” aka RCPP (like JBCP) to its end customers. The support subscription will be for developement as well as production support with flexible SLA’s to suit the requirement’s and demand’s of end customers. For further details contact TeleStax –http://telestax.com/contactus/ 


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