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Cisco Systems (1999)

As one of the original product managers in the company’s Packet Telephony Division, I was responsible for evolving our VoIP strategy and technology across several key platforms.  After rapidly rolling out H.323-based protocol implementations, we quickly pivoted toward SIP and xGCP implementations.  My passion lay more in end-user utility for platforms such as this.

I was therefore considering ways in which we could improve the flexibility of Cisco’s VoIP architecture to enable SIP-like functionality within a carrier-centric H.323 protocol environment. Specifically, I saw opportunity for the rollout of third-party services leveraging the Cisco VoIP platform in competition with the Dialogic/Intel-based solutions being used to develop innovative telecommunications services globally. I pitched this to a major partner, who was midway through deploying a multi-billion-dollar VoIP network, and convinced them of the value of leveraging third-party innovation to grow their network.

Sifting through internal documents I discovered protocol extensions to H.323 implemented by Cisco for failover/redundancy that enabled indirect consideration of call routing decisions across the network.  This was a largely unregarded by hugely significant decoupling of signalling from communications media.  There is tremendous value to disaggregation between signalling and media in communications — it is the root of the value of the SIP protocol.

We worked to enhance these protocol extensions in order to enable application developers to leverage carrier platforms in lieu of investing in capital equipment.  I quickly spun up a developer program to assist what I called TASPs (Telephony Application Service Providers) in accessing documentation, getting sample equipment to work with, and developer access to Cisco support.  As a team we made partnership/investment decisions within the ecosystem while I attempted to maintain some balance.

In the end, I personally supported more than a dozen 3rd-party application developers and helped migratee numerous consumer and business voice applications from stand-alone intel platforms on to the GTE Internetworking VoIP network.  The growth of this network in turn led to greater demand for Cisco product, driving significant increase in “port pull-thru” sales of Cisco remote access gateways.


Posted on

July 20, 1999