Enterprise Alert have released a blog announcing that Enterprise Alert now works with Skype. This in my opinion is significant news, previously, if you wanted to use VoIP as a notification channel you had to purchase a product such as Microsoft Lync, Cisco Call Manager or Avaya Aura. In my experience, potential customers who are interested in purchasing Enterprise Alert are often keen to implement the VoIP functionality inherent in the product. However, if the customer did not already have the relevant hardware, then implementing VoIP could become a pipe dream particularly if the customers budget did not stretch to buying one of the supported products.
With Enterprise Alert now providing support for a VoIP cloud based solution such as Skype, the total cost of deploying Enterprise Alert and using VoIP can be significantly reduced, instantly making an already fine product more attractive. Of course it goes without saying that the amount of time spent configuring VoIP is reduced, as there is no need to employ an expert to configure the external VoIP product as Skype has down all the hard work for you.
In our office we use Enterprise Alert to alert the managed services staff of potential problems with our in-house data centre. When we implemented Enterprise Alert we had no VoIP product in house, so we have relied upon other notification channels such as email, SMS and push notifications. We did look at VoIP options but they were a bit expensive for our needs. So the Skype integration generated a fair of excitement in the managed services team, finally the chance to leverage the VoIP capabilities of the product. So within ten minutes of reading the post on Derdack’s blog we were able to get VoIP up and running at low cost and with minimal time expenditure.
The diagram below displays the original Enterprise Architecture for our data centre at a high level:
The diagram below displays the updated Enterprise Architecture for our data centre at a high level:
To configure Enterprise Alert to leverage Skype is straightforward. A Skype manager account will need to be created (if one does not already exist) at http://skype.manager.com. Once the account is created (this should take less than five minutes), a SIP profile needs to be created as per Derdack’s blog. Keep a note of the location of the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) authentication screen (though you would have received emails with these details) as these details will be used to configure Enterprise Alert.
With the Skype manager account set-up with a SIP profile, all the pieces are in place to configure Enterprise Alert to use VoIP. The Dedack blog covered the configuration of VoIP via Skype accurately and the bulletpoints below highlight the notable fields complete:-
- VoIP Server : sip.skype.com (Or IP address if you configured IP authentication in your SIP profile)
- Account Name or SIP URI : Enter the SIP User number from the Skype authentication details page (see earlier image)
- Account Password : The password from the Skype authentication details page (see earlier image)
- Connection Type: 1 – SIP Phone Endpoint
- SIP Transport: 0 – UDP
- TTS Engine: Microsoft Hazel Telecom – English (United Kingdom)
- Enable inbound local Calls: Enabled.
- Local Listening Address: 5060
Remember to open up a hole in your organizations firewall for UDP port 5060 otherwise a link the the Skype server cannot be established. Below is a screenshot of a working VoIP configuration.
With the VoIP configuration up and running, it was time to test a VoIP alert. The quickest way to do this in Enterprise Alert is to create a manual alert. A manual alert was created with the following details:
By clicking on “Submit and Track” the user’s mobile phone will ring (in this case my phone) and the user should answer the call and acknowledge the alert. Once the alert is acknowledged this can be checked back at the Enterprise Alert portal.
The above image clearly shows that the alert was Acknowledged by the user and that VoIP is ready for use as a notification channel.
In conclusion, I hope this blog demonstrated how easy it was to configure Enterprise Alert to leverage Skype to deliver VoIP functionality to an organisation. Using Skype will allow many organisations to utilise VoIP as a method for delivering alerts to on-call engineers, particularly if an organization’s budget did not stretch to purchasing specific software solutions. An organisation can leverage the cloud to deliver the VoIP functionality, this means no specialist hardware or software needs to be purchased, and all maintenance and configuration of VoIP is undertaken by Skype. So in short, using Skype is of enormous benefit to an organisation from both a cost and functionality perspective. It should be noted that you may have to check your current Enterprise Alert license to see if VoIP is available as a notification channel. If you have any questions about Enterprise Alert or this blog, please feel free to send me an email.