Mark Rayburn, Director of Advanced Technology, CPT

Q. What does CPT do? What is your role there?
A. For more than 12 years, CPT has provided high-volume voice application hosting services for government, enterprise, and Tier 1 carriers. About four years ago, I was engaged by the executive team to lead a transition from the proprietary systems that established CPT (or any other company in that era) to the standards-based IVR technologies that dominate the space today. I function as director of the advanced technology group - a creative team of developers and researchers that serve all departments within the company supplying strategic technical recommendations for future growth, improved performance, and superior customer experiences. We also provide thoughtful leadership by reaching out to related industries and participating with our partners to help formulate and drive the designs, standards, and products of the future that will benefit not only CPT's business partners, but the market as a whole.

Q. Who are some of CPT's partners and how do you select them?
A. CPT has a diverse set of partners in many areas that weave a strong fabric of solutions for our customers. As an example, we team with technology partners for our VoiceXML gateways, switching, transport, speech recognition, speech synthesis, speaker verification, data storage, computing, cooling, network routing, fail-over, redundancy, frameworks, reporting, data mining, data integrity, security, quality/performance monitoring, and test equipment.  These partnerships include companies such as HP, Cisco, F5, Intel, VoiceGenie, Vocalocity, Envox, ScanSoft, Philips, Excel Switching, F5, Empirix, and Business Objects.

Q. What benefits can customers derive from CPT's latest partnership with Excel?
A. Excel has a well-known foundation of functionality and reliability, as well as a superb record of quality built over years of service. There are many unique features designed into its switching products that give Excel a performance edge and the ability to adapt in this rapidly changing market. Excel continues to respond to its partners' needs with new VoIP protocol controls, media server features, and denser, more modular and cost-effective packaging. CPT's customers directly benefit from the Excel partnership with more competitive pricing, faster time to market with new technologies, flexible call routing, wider interoperability with networks and resources, and a smooth transition between TDM and VoIP transport that is so critical during this time of industry evolution.

Q. As a hosting service, why might it be important for CPT to stay in the middle of the major providers?
A. Deep involvement with technology providers is crucial to the success of your hosting business. The onus is on us as hosters to specifically and constructively communicate our problems and make recommendations for future improvements. The multi-tenant environment presents unique needs and the only way to address these needs is by getting on the engineering radar of the technology providers. It's much easier to change things in the design or requirements gathering phase than after something has been released. The providers are swamped with high levels of activity and changes keeping up with evolving standards and endless interop issues, so tenacious and effective communications are vital. CPT invests significant time into our vendor relationships, and we enjoy the fruits of our labors with each new release of their products.

Q. What does CPT do to protect its partners' solutions?
A. CPT provides several layers of protection for our partners. Our security measures are one such layer. This influences our choice of data center, which houses our infrastructure and includes excellent physical building security with strict authorizations for access such as badges, passwords, and biometrics, 24/7 guards, and seasoned, enforced security processes. This attention to security carries through the infrastructure network design, data encryption, personnel screening and access privileges. We also maintain automated backup schedules; disaster recovery drills; multiple site redundancy; detailed, extensible monitoring with multi-modal notifications; and rigorous testing. As a "hosting only" or "pure play" voice application hosting provider, CPT is naturally aligned with our partners' successes. Keeping customer lists, future plans, costs, prices, and other intellectual property confidential is not only good business; it supports a CPT core value: integrity. The only way to create, develop, and maintain the close partnerships that yield the highest returns is to earn trust.

Q. What has CPT been doing lately with VoIP? How does it apply to the speech industry?
A. CPT's interest in SIP is two-fold. First, we are employing SIP in our internal infrastructure as a cost-cutting measure. Costs are reduced by eliminating resource excesses, such as DSPs and network interface connections, providing more efficient call routing and increasing component density while decreasing complexities within our architecture. Secondly, using SIP for transport provides local number presence, more flexible call transfer scenarios, easier/faster provisioning, and sometimes lower costs (over TDM). Existing applications benefit from enhanced features and cost savings, but SIP opens up many more hosting options for entirely new applications. I'll go out on a limb here and say that any simple, extensible, standards-based technology that makes it easy to reliably and cost effectively route calls and other media will positively impact the speech industry.

Q. Where do you see the speech market going with VoIP?
A. I see the speech market moving to 100 percent VoIP as quickly as possible, but certainly not overnight. Obviously legacy infrastructures cannot or will not move as quickly as newcomers to this market, but longer term: "Resistance is futile." The newbies have an edge in this regard, but the older players have the existing customers. The technology is still not without its challenges. We need to keep improving end-to-end quality. Work is being done on accurate speech recognition in compressed formats as well as eliminating the need for some of this audio by pushing recognition into the device itself. VoIP will continue to drive out wasteful excesses and specialized gear in the networks and improve support response. Security and interop remain big issues; year by year, things get better.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A. VoiceXML and VoIP are very disruptive technologies. Though both are in widespread usage, their potential has not yet been fully realized. As just one example, I believe SIP-based applications will start driving new lighter weight, highly distributed, and more extensible CTI approaches that are more open and standards-based.

The convergence of voice and data is great, but the convergence of the talent pools is ushering in even more exciting times and growth. Web-heads do not think like Bell-heads. We need to reach out more to the Web community to discover the true "next generation" of voice applications. In fact, in the very near future, voice will be joined by many other media types, such as video for multi-modal applications. If you start thinking about multi-media, you also have to wonder about Brother Bill at Microsoft's next move.

In any case, the adoption of standards continues to energize an industry that I've enjoyed for more than18 years. I doubt any of us have any trouble getting out of bed in the morning! 

Mark Rayburn, Director of Advanced Technology, CPT

An entrepreneur with over 18 years experience in the voice technology industry, Mark Rayburn brings technology vision and business insight to the Voice Harbor team. Rayburn's responsibilities include driving strategic development and product requirements for research and development initiatives. A thought leader in the telephony community, Rayburn collaborates with key players in the industry to promote the advantages of voice technology and the adoption of standards such as VoiceXML and SIP. He was responsible for introducing VoiceXML technology to the company and championed developing a standards-based platform.

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