20 June 2012

Pre-Release Announcement: PortaSwitch Maintenance Release 27 New Features Available for Staging System Deployment on July 6

PortaOne continues to deliver new PortaSwitch functionality in unprecedentedly short time via agile development policies and frequent maintenance releases. PortaSwitch maintenance release 27 will be available to PortaOne customers on July 6, 2012. Below are the key improvements and their benefits to service providers.

MR27 Highlights:

  • Routing override
  • Asterisk RADIUS integration
  • PIN verification
  • Manual adjustments
  • CDR import
  • Fraud protection
  • A580IP auto-provisioning
Routing override

PortaSwitch provides excellent capabilities for real-time routing (LCR, profit-guarantee routing, individual routing plans, etc.). The key factor for determining routing is that a rate in the vendor’s tariff contains the necessary attributes (such as cost, preference, etc.). During the routing calculation, PortaBilling will automatically search for all available carriers and the applicable rates and then produce the optimal routing list. This allows the routing for any customer to react dynamically to even the slightest change in a vendor’s rate, so there is no need to “rebuild” the routing table or do any other manual operations after a new tariff for the vendor is uploaded. This is one of the features of PortaBilling most appreciated by people who manage carriers/routing, since it significantly reduces the amount of manual work.

Sometimes though, it is necessary to make a minor adjustment for a single route only (e.g. traffic to Vietnam-Mobile from customer A should always go to carrier XYZ). Another common example is percentage-based routing: for instance, when sending out calls to UK-Proper 20% of the traffic should go to carrier A, and 80% to carrier B.

Configuration of these scenarios has now become easier with the LCR override functionality. The administrator can create a list of connections for a destination group in the desired routing order, and the call will be routed according to this sequence before (or instead of) applying “normal” LCR routing. An entry in the override list can be a percentage-share connection pool, where each connection has a chance to be the first route proportionate to the assigned percentage value.

This new tool will simplify some of the day-to-day routing configuration tasks and allow PortaOne customers to create even more flexible routing policies.

Integration with latest version of Asterisk RADIUS module

The PortaBilling engine includes a new interface plug-in module which allows real-time collection of CDR data from Asterisk (Asterisk v1.8 using the “native” RADIUS client). This enables service providers to offer an “outsourced” billing service to some of their customers, who not only deliver outgoing calls to the service provider via SIP trunk but also need to distinguish between the activity of individual users inside of their PBX.

PIN verification for corporate IP Centrex

The IP Centrex service supplied via PortaSwitch offers end-users the convenience and simplicity of making outgoing calls by just picking up the phone and dialing a number. In some situations, though, this may create a potential problem, because the service could be abused. For instance, if a phone is installed in a public area such as a conference room, anybody could make an outgoing international call and it would be nearly impossible to find out who did it. Clearly, the typical corporate customer is interested in better staff accountability for outgoing calls, and needs a tool to provide authorization and audit.

In order to establish an extra level of authorization and prevent any service abuse, it is possible to activate the “Additional PIN verification” feature for specific phone lines and create an extra authorization PIN for staff members. (PINs are managed as additional accounts or aliases under the customer.) Calls between extensions within IP Centrex or outgoing free calls (e.g. calls to toll-free numbers) are allowed as usual. If a call is made to a destination which involves some non-zero cost to the customer, and whose maximum allowed call duration is thus limited, the call is automatically redirected to an IVR that requires the user to enter a PIN to proceed with the call. If a valid PIN is provided, the call is connected, and CDRs are associated with the PIN which was used. This allows a clear overview of which account was used to make individual calls.

Improved transaction types for manual adjustments

Sometimes an administrator needs to intervene in the billing process and amend the charges automatically produced by the system (xDRs for voice calls or Internet session, subscription charges, etc.). PortaBilling Maintenance Release 27 offers an improved set of transactions for adjusting the customer’s bill. The two main improvements are:

  • Reduced set of transaction types for greater clarity;
  • Ability to apply a transaction to a specific service for improved financial reporting.

Redesigned CDR import module

The CDR import tool has been redesigned to allow easy customization of the CDR data manipulation process. The system comes “bundled” with import modules for BroadSoft and Cisco Call Manager, and allows easy customization for additional CDR file formats used by other carriers or telecom equipment.

Whereas previously tasks such as converting values of individual fields from one format to another, conditional processing of CDR data, or external mapping (e.g. between IP addresses and actual carrier names) required the creation of a dedicated plug-in module, now code “snippets” may be placed directly in the configuration file for a specific CDR import instance. This makes it possible to reduce the average time required for developing and troubleshooting a module to support a new CDR file format.

The collection of CDR processing plug-ins has been extended to include two new modules for parsing CDR files:

  • BroadWorks (BroadSoft)
  • Cisco Call Manager (Cisco)

These modules work in the same way as other CDR import plug-ins: the CDR files are uploaded from an external source to PortaBilling, where they are immediately processed and sent to the billing engine for rating. As a result, the customer’s balance is updated and CDRs are produced practically in real time.

Geo profile management GUI for fraud protection

This is an additional module for the VoIP Fraud Protection system, introduced in MR26. It allows the administrator to conveniently create multiple profiles and then assign individual countries to a risk group inside each profile. This will be of great help to customers who provide products in different countries.

Auto-provisioning for new phones

The list of IP phones which are auto-provisioned by PortaSwitch has been extended to include the Siemens A580IP phone.



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