Swoop Datacom Review: Simple Skype for Business Connectivity for Any Endpoint
Read our Swoop Datacom ForgeServe review
Whether deployed on-premises or in the cloud, software-based UC platforms have become the dominant force in business communications over the past decade or more. So much so that we now see the phenomena of brands like Skype for Business – developed and sold not by a telecoms specialist, but by the world’s biggest enterprise software company – taking a huge chunk of the UC market.
Yet business communications is by no means all about the ability to video call, IM and share documents from an app on your laptop. Much older channels, namely the telephone, still hold sway. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, businesses will have been running their telephone system for a lot longer than they have been running Skype for Business.
This is where problems can occur. As a complete end-to-end UC solution, Skype for Business acts as an enterprise-class IP PBX, providing external connections to PSTN phone lines. To make the most of Skype for Business, many organisations therefore want to be able to plug their telephone systems straight into it, and enjoy the benefits of telephony management from its bright, modern, user-friendly interface.
The issue is that not all telephone endpoints automatically connect to Skype for Business. As a SIP-based platform, only SIP-enabled desk phones, conference phones and other equipment will plug in and play with Skype for Business. But even those that do support SIP still have to be certified as compatible by Microsoft.
Telecoms industry veterans John Bennett and David Kirsopp saw this as a major barrier to the adoption of SIP-based UC platforms. With legacy phone systems, or even older VoIP solutions, telephone hardware would plug into virtual any network with very little technical complexity. Not so with SIP phones.
So John and David decided to do something about it. In 2015, they founded Swoop Datacom, on a mission to smooth the transition to modern SIP-based telephony. Their solution is ForgeServe, a cloud-based service which Swoop DataCom claims will connect most standards-based endpoints to a platform like Skype for Business in two simple steps.
What can it do?
ForgeServe is described as an SaaS lifecycle management platform for IP endpoints. Its primary purpose is to connect devices with any chosen call control platform – not only Skype for Business, but also the likes of BroadSoft, Asterisk, Avaya, 3CX and many more.
Aimed at channel resellers and service providers, ForgeServe takes an innovative approach to device configuration. As a cloud-based service, it provides ‘zero touch’ provisioning and deployment. Connected to the service via a web browser, all staging and configuration required to set the device up for a particular platform is done remotely using preloaded templates.
This removes the need for on-site installation and set up, whether the devices are being connected to an on-premises or cloud-based UC platform. Instead of sending out engineers and incurring the costs of configuring devices manually, ForgeServe does everything in seconds, helping resellers increase margins by lowering their overheads on equipment installations and reducing time to market for new devices.
ForgeServe is much more than a configuration and deployment tool, however. Once connected to the platform, ForgeServe provides ongoing monitoring and management of all devices, including live status updates. For resellers, this means they can add value to their product sales by using ForgeServe to provide remote tracking, diagnostics and controls as part of an aftercare package.
Service providers can access device data from anywhere via a web browser, without the need for additional hardware. This allows for complete ongoing technical support and device estate management, capable of everything from troubleshooting to device reboots without the need to send anyone onsite.
Monitoring tools continually assess network performance, voice quality and log ﬁles, providing a live data resource to support help desk inquiries. Change control functions allow ﬁrmware updates, conﬁguration changes and user preference requests to be handled remotely.
Built-in debugging and advanced management tools enabling remote factory resets and reboots mean most instances of device failure can be resolved without the need for an engineer to attend, boosting system uptime and customer satisfaction.
Finally, should a client decide they wish to switch from one calling platform to another – by signing up for Skype for Business, for example – this can also be handled seamlessly by service providers using ForgeServe.
What do we like?
Swoop Datacom’s ForgeServe is an ideal example of how extremely clever technology can be made to appear very straightforward on the outside. The use of a universal interface and template engine is designed so you don’t need any specialist technical knowledge about one vendor or device or another in order to run ForgeServe services.
Connect the device, and the platform automatically recognises and maps appropriate settings for the required call platform. But the level of software engineering that has gone into making this apparently straightforward function possible is highly sophisticated, bringing elements of AI and IoT automation into the UC sphere.
What is it compatible with?
ForgeServe offers a platform-agnostic service for connecting IP devices with the likes of Skype for Business, BroadSoft, 3CX and more. It is compatible with devices from manufacturers including Polycom, Cisco, Yealink and Snom.
UC Today Opinion
In the modern UC market, end users increasingly expect to be able to plug any device or hardware into any platform they choose. What they do not like is complexity or compatibility issues – in the age of cloud flexibility and open standards, they demand ease of use, functionality, technology that sits behind the scenes, silently and efficiently allowing the important work to be done.
This creates a huge pressure on the channel to deliver such smooth, seamless solutions. Disruptive, innovative solutions such as Swoop Datacom’s ForgeServe are exactly what the market needs to keep responding and evolving in sync with end user expectations.
On top of its ability to make IP devices compatible with an extensive range of software UC platforms, ForgeServe provides a complete toolkit for provisioning, staging, monitoring and providing aftercare services for endpoints remotely. In doing so, it offers resellers the chance to increase efficiency, cut overheads, drive operational performance and raise customer satisfaction.