The IBM BlueMix cloud integration platform, announced earlier this week, is essentially an assembly point for connecting various enterprise applications. One of the first applications to lend credibility to this nascent IBM effort is Twilio, a provider of a communications services delivered via the cloud.
At the IBM Pulse 2014 conference this week, Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson demonstrated live on the main stage how it can now take about 5 minutes to integrate Twilio services into another application on the IBM BlueMix platform. The final goal is to be able to make communications services such as in-application dialing, conference calling, group texting, mobile app distribution, and two-factor authentication an API call away for every enterprise application.
Matt Keowen, senior director of marketing for Twilio, says the company now is seeing most of its success come in the form of point applications such as customer service, where the time and effort required to embed traditional on-premise communications technologies would simply be cost-prohibitive.
Keowen says that the alliance with IBM is particularly significant because it should expose the Twilio service to many traditional enterprise IT organizations unaware that communications services can now be easily integrated within any number of applications.
Taking advantage of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud allows Twilio, says Keowen, to scale those communications services up and down as required by invoking RESTful APIs. In contrast, traditional communications services require customers not only to provision a lot of expensive hardware but also to hire developers with specialized skills needed to master proprietary platforms.
The existence of services such as Twilio actually signifies that the long-sought convergence of communications and application software might finally be at hand. Although most organizations today have invested heavily in proprietary PBX systems, many have been unable to effectively integrate communications services directly within the workflow of the business. After communications services become a true API service, it’s only a matter of time before developers routinely embed those functions inside almost every application. That’s going to be especially true for a new generation of mobile computing applications that enterprise IT organizations are now currently racing to embrace.
Obviously, every vendor of proprietary communications products and telecommunication services will eventually move in this direction. Given the rate at which developers embrace APIs these days to construct modern applications, however, the opportunity to provide those capabilities as a service already might have long passed them by.