Hanging Up On Cost, Complexity of Voice IT

A small software firm in the farthest corner of the South Pacific has come up with new, loosely-coupled XML-based voice technologies that make it easier and cheaper for architects to design and deploy a wide array of voice-driven web services and integration projects. See how Australia's Skunkworks is catching the attentions of telcos and exchange users.

Tags: Perl, Telco Perl, Language, Speech, Whirlwind, Database, Perl Scripts,


A small software firm in the farthest corner of the South Pacific has come up with new, loosely-coupled XML-based voice technologies that make it easier and cheaper for architects to design and deploy a wide array of voice-driven web services and integration projects.

Australia's SkunkWorks' Whirlwind appdev engine and toolkit to enable developers to leverage VoiceXML and SALT (Speech Application Language Tags) without knowing much about either. As a result, devs can build everything telco-related from voicemail play/record, fax, conference, text to speech, speech recognition, and even complex voice protocol conversions.

Based on the an Open Source dynamic scripting language called Perl, Whirlwind is far from a hobbyist piece of technology. In fact, Skunkworks has hardened their approach so that will support all major providers of SS7 and VoIP solutions.

Whirlwind also includes S.100 and VoiceXML interfaces. In addition, CPAN.org provides many plug-in modules for Perl to connect to third party and legacy telco systems, including SMPP for SMS, DBI for database and LWP for web connectivity.

But, despite its ability to integrate with legacy installs, much of the magic of their solution is found from their innovative use of Perl.

SkunkWorks engineers claim that Whirlwind's telco-optimized "Telco Perl" dev environment can provide devs far greater flexibility and control of applications, compared to direct use of Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) and VoiceXML. Their reasoning is simple: SALT and VoiceXML are standards ratified by forums to extend the use of HTML and XML for speech recognition services. Perl, on the other hand, works with HTML and XML and can be readily embedded into other environments.

Telco Perl, which executes 100% native Perl 5.8.0 scripts, sports these telco-optimized features:
  • Telephony functions (answer, switch, play, record, set up conference, send fax, voicemail to email, fax to email, text-to-speech, etc.)
  • Caching of scripts
  • Intelligent distributed database connectivity
  • Call accounting
  • Fail-over, high availability architecture
  • Inter application communications
  • Purpose designed for high density
  • Application hierarchy
  • Multi-tasking
  • Just-in-time compiling
  • Real-time application provisioning
  • Multi-threading
  • Smart debugging
  • .

    Telco Perl launch has already attracted positive attention from telecom resellers and systems integrators, according to SkunkWorks' execs.

    "Most telephony products use proprietary languages so when customers want new features they are caught in a continuous cycle of time delays and labor costs," says SkunkWorks sales director Bill Oborn. "Using Telco Perl, you can leverage from millions of Perl developers and thousands of existing Perl modules that you can freely download. Also there's no need to train staff in proprietary languages, just grab a Perl user off the street. The savings in time and money are enormous."

    One Whirlwind distributor in Europe used Telco Perl to tie in a MySQL database into a telco messaging application. "[Our] customer said he needed the messaging service to communicate with MySQL rather than PostgreSQL," Oborn said. "He downloaded the MySQL Perl module from he Internet, and within two hours had it running and tested."

    Telco Perl scripts are 100% native Perl enhanced by the Whirlwind engine to allow total control over media resources. In specific, Telco Perl provides a Perl API and uses 100% native Perl scripts to connect a variety of legacy and Open Source databases, telephone network interfaces, billing systems and other applications. Whirlwind provides an abstraction of the low-level components, such as hardware and media resources, allowing developers to focus on constructing the target application.

    Click here for more technical details on Telco Perl (including a Code Sample)



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