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Microsoft Calls on Comms APIs


Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, introducing Azure Communication Services

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, introducing Azure Communication Services at Ignite 2020

"It's all about dev velocity."
You could apply this statement to just about any business project in today’s fiercely competitive digital world, but these words came straight from the mouth of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during his virtual kickoff address yesterday at the company’s Ignite customer and partner conference.
That Nadella would speak to developers is of course no surprise, with Microsoft’s long history with developer tools, frameworks, platforms, editing tools, and such. But Nadella did surprise—with the news that Microsoft is now providing communications as a platform built on top of the Azure cloud and using the same security structure powering Microsoft Teams. Speaking to his dev velocity theme, he told of how the newly announced Azure Communication Services, available in preview mode, will allow any developer to bring communications APIs into their applications, across any device, on any platform.
What that means, Nadella emphasized, is that the infrastructure behind Teams is now available as APIs developers can use to embed communications into their own apps.
The communications capabilities may come in the form of voice or video calling, chat, or SMS, for use in mobile or desktop applications or on websites — all enabled with a few lines of code, as Scott Van Vliet, CVP for intelligent communications at Microsoft, shared in a company blog post on Azure Communication Services. In October, Azure Communication Services also will support telephony capabilities, enabling developers to provision phone numbers for inbound and outbound calling; port existing or request new numbers; and integrate into on-prem systems and carrier networks with SIP, he shared.
With Azure Communication Services, Microsoft said it provides APIs and SDKs for common platforms and languages, including Apple iOS, Android, web, .NET, and JavaScript.
Customer service is a logical fit, as demonstrated in the introduction of a first-party voice channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service. Naturally, Microsoft built the voice channel on Azure Communication Services, as James Phillips, president of Microsoft Business Applications, shared at Ignite and in a blog post. The voice channel, available in preview, integrates into existing omnichannel capabilities, which means all configured workflows, productivity tools, and AI capabilities carry forward to it.
Here at No Jitter, we’ve been awaiting news along these lines since early August, when a group of industry watchers we gathered for an Enterprise Connect Digital Conference roundtable (available on demand) pointed to the growing demand for and pending announcements around communications platform as a service (CPaaS). During that session, Jim Burton, founder and CEO of C-T Link and co-founder of the BCStrategies group, discussed how the push from larger enterprises for ways of integrating communications capabilities into their back-office processes would lead to market disruption. He hinted that major vendors, Microsoft included, were getting ready to release CPaaS solutions aimed at addressing the growing enterprise demand.
During that session, Burton also included Amazon, Cisco, and Google on his list of industry players that could be expected to move on CPaaS. Watch this space.