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23 December 2012

PortaSwitch Maintenance Release 31 is Available

PortaOne announces availability on the Maintenance Release 31 (MR31) for PortaSwitch, communication services delivery platform. The most important improvements in the functionality include:


MR31 Highlights:

  • REST (JSON) API
  • Control of Subscription Charges
  • Extension Dial from Auto-Attendant
REST API

XML API (SOAP) provides an excellent way to access data in PortaBilling® from external applications, regardless of language or operating system. While there are numerous advantages to using XML to transport data between the server and the application, one of the main drawbacks is the relative complexity of encoding / decoding the data into an XML format. In addition, SOAP protocol itself adds internal data structures to each request, and this overhead takes its toll on the performance as well. All this results in reduced overall performance of web applications, especially when an application must retrieve information about many different objects (e.g. customer and his accounts, subscriptions, volume discounts, invoices, etc.).

An alternative approach is to use the simpler REST interface and encode the data using a JSON format. This method has recently gained more popularity because it is easier to use from within web applications and its performance is much better.

As of Maintenance Release 31, PortaBilling® now offers a REST interface for data manipulation. This essentially provides you with access to the same methods and structures as those in the SOAP API. In addition, it facilitates the creation of heavy-loaded front-end web sites that can retrieve and modify data in PortaBilling® with minimum potential impact on performance.

Waiving Subscription Fees During Suspension

This new feature allows administrators to define how recurring fees (subscriptions) can be applied to customers whose service was temporarily disabled because of non-payment (suspended). For some of the subscriptions (e.g. hardware rental), fees will still be charged – while for others (e.g. discounted international calling), they will be waived (since the customer was unable to use that service). This permits fine-tuning to the product portfolio to achieve a balance between maximizing the recurring revenue and providing a better customer experience.

Direct Access to Extension from Auto-Attendant

Many service providers consider one of the sources of customer base growth to be the migration of customers, using legacy PBX systems or entry-level IP PBX systems, to the IP Centrex service. Customers are motivated to make the migration because of the VoIP environment’s additional features offered by PortaSwitch. These include easy centralized management, reliability and scalability. It is paramount to provide a smooth migration experience, i.e. by disrupting as few of the established procedures as possible, therefore allowing the customer to use the system in the way that they’re accustomed. A frequently used feature in legacy PBX systems provides the ability to dial an extension immediately after reaching an auto-attendant IVR menu (“If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it now…”). This is now available in the PortaSIP® auto-attendant application – in addition to the existing mode that requires an end-user to select a “Dial extension” action first. The introduction of this feature should allow service providers using PortaSwitch to migrate business customers to a hosted IP PBX service with ease.

OPUS Codec Support

PortaSwitch is codec-agnostic regarding media stream content. A call can be connected between two devices using any codec (whether it is free, royalty-based, proprietary, encrypted, etc.) as long as both end-points support it, and no special support is required from PortaSwitch®. The PortaSwitch® administrator may choose to filter out or enforce usage of certain codecs (using the “Routing Filter” functionality of the “Routing Plan”) to provide better network utilization or ensure compatibility between customers and carriers. This will require detailed knowledge of the specific codec types. In addition, as of Maintenance Release 31, the ability to apply filters using an OPUS codec has been added.

Availability

All current PortaSwitch owners whose platforms are covered by PortaOne’s PortaCare technical support program are eligible to obtain MR31.

PortaOne recommends that a new release is first installed on a staging system, where you can become familiar with the new features without disrupting any production services. Users who already have a staging license can simply contact their PortaOne support team; to order a new staging license, interested users should write to PortaOne sales team.


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