Friday, November 4, 2011

Hello snom Active!

There is a new service available from snom, called “snom Active”.

This is a central provisioning system for installations where other provisioning is not available, e.g. no option 66. What happens is it goes to a central provisioning location and is maintained from that service. So if the device does not have a provisioning location setup yet, it will connect to the public Internet and download its configuration from there.

This kind of provisioning service was already from snom; however it was not a very well-known feature because it was very difficult and cumbersome to use. The new snom Active makes it possible to log in on distributor and VAR level and manage devices in bulk or individually. There are templates available; the whole configuration can be set up by snom Active (the previous snom provision mechanism was just a redirect service).

New is also that the snom Active checks the client certificates from the devices. The m9 has certificates built-in, snom Active will actually verify that the device with the Mac address therefore it really is that device and not just a web browser in the internet trying to steal some passwords. Because snom Active trusts snom based certificates, this service is really plug and play and secure.

Use cases are like this: A VAR can manage the devices for different devices, so that they will automatically always fetch the right configuration, even if the customer decides to “play” with the settings. A factory reset will always get the devices back to the state they were during installation. If changes become necessary, they can be done on snom Active, not on the device. This solves some problem with firewalls where it is difficult to get access to the device.

Another use case is that a distributor sells the m9 preconfigured for a service provider to residential customers. For example, let’s assume that distributor D makes a deal with service provider S, and provides a DID number for each device that he ships. Then the customer who receives the device plugs the device in the network, and voila the devices fetches the configuration, sets up the registration and the customer can start making the first phone call without even knowing what an IP address is. This also makes a lot of sense for promotional purposes, because many service providers are already handing out prepaid accounts for trial use—once the small prepaid account is used up, customers are redirected to a subscription service where they can sign up for the real service; all on the phone. I believe this is really a killer feature that might be an inroad into residential customers, talking about customers that expect the simplicity of a PSTN installation.

Please note that this service requires version 9.4.12 on the m9, because the previous versions did not check the location for snom Active.

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