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ComLinQ

The Client

ComLinQComLinQ is a Texas-based company that provides prepaid phone card services. For eight years, ComLinQ's in-house resources built, modified, and maintained a software system (Syslinq) that supported Natural MicroSystems' ISDN telephony hardware.

ComLinQ's Syslinq application was written entirely in C and was designed for use on Microsoft® Windows®-based systems. Its main source code file included most of the code necessary to run a few variations of phone-card applications. The primary application was a phone-card system that allowed callers to identify themselves through a PIN number and to choose an outbound number to dial. Other applications included "Forwarding" and "Quicklinq".

ComLinQ's Challenge

Like many other telephony companies that faced increased competition and a need for efficient services, ComLinQ decided to upgrade from an ISDN-based solution to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform. This was a critical business imperative that would allow ComLinQ to migrate from outdated POTS technology in order to survive the fierce competition for low-cost long distance communications service.

ComLinQ defined an upgrade that supported the Aculab Prosody X IP media processing boards - products that provide essential functionality and that can be used to build a wide range of next generation telco and enterprise applications, and service delivery platforms.

Internal or External Solution?

ComLinQ's plan was to have internal developers re-write their application to make use of the new Aculab cards. However, ComLinQ faced a major challenge when its lead developer left the company because of personal reasons. ComLinQ was faced with a large hardware investment and no way to implement their solution.

To help them revise their telephony solution, ComLinQ realized that it had to engage a third-party development team to modify their existing application - and turned to Aculab for references. Aculab suggested Veeda Software, LLC and an Australian developer as possible candidates.

Project Scope and Proposed Solutions

ComLinQ's full business solution included functions of business logic in programs outside of Syslinq. These subsystems (called from or embedded in Syslinq such that any packaged software option would have to be extensively modified) had their own sets of existing rules which had to be maintained.

Veeda Software identified these major systemic challenges as key problems and proposed a value-based custom solution that would address current business logic, particularly regarding how tightly the telephony hardware "calls" were coupled with the billing system. The other developer proposed a lower cost alternative that would have them identify, adapt, and implement an off-the-shelf software package to solve the problem. However, their solution would inevitably require a redesign of the entire billing and other business logic systems. Nonetheless, ComLinQ chose to move ahead with the second developer's low-cost proposal that they felt could be implemented rapidly.

Programming Problems and Jeopardized Business

Six months after ComLinQ project start, the developer still had not delivered any usable code. ComLinQ then realized that it was not possible to use an existing prepaid card application to replace Syslinq; that the developer's solution was not practical; and that the developer was incapable of delivering the solution it proposed.

Windows of business opportunities were closing fast. ComLinQ knew it needed an immediate and comprehensive resolution to their problem. Hendrick Melo, Veeda Software's Founder and President, had remained in touch with ComLinQ principals after he presented his company's proposal - despite having not been chosen as the original solution developer. When ComLinQ's president, Travis Hamer, realized the original vendor could not deliver a modified off-the-shelf solution, he acknowledged Melo's persistence and the efficacy of his solution and then engaged Veeda as a stateside software development partner to replace the original vendor.

Veeda Resolves the Problems

Instead of packaged software, Veeda Software offered a custom application built on a portfolio of tools and techniques that facilitate customized telephony software solutions. Veeda offered a vast library of existing source code, documentation, and business knowledge to create a solution that fit ComLinQ's very specific needs. Veeda proposed a replacement application to Syslinq, one that would operate with the Aculab Prosody X family of cards. To allow rapid development and implementation, the new application would not immediately support all existing Syslinq functions. However, its modular design guaranteed maintainability and ease of functional expandability in the future.

Veeda considered ComLinQ's critical application needs and designed suitable components to address them. Unlike Syslinq, Veeda's solution separated the business logic portion from the hardware access portion to enable simpler maintenance of the business logic source code. More specifically, the separation of the business logic into the Microsoft .NET framework facilitates maintenance of the application as it provides a simpler means for programmers to modify call rules and other business logic. It allows programmers to use any .NET languages (Visual Basic, C#, J#, etc.) to maintain and/or expand the code. The new application employs extensive use of object-oriented programming practices to provide easier expandability for subsequent updates.

To optimize the solution for the Aculab Prosody X platform, the core of the solution comprises a Windows Dynamically Linked Library (DLL) to drive the card to perform the basic telephony functions required by this application. Further characteristics include C++ programming that allows the user to address the Aculab API directly and to increase efficiency in the low-level code, and .NET-ready code that allows users of .NET-based languages to easily create and/or modify telephony applications.

Positive Results

By leveraging existing code, tools, and techniques, Veeda Software maintained its initial proposal budget, eliminated rush charges, and was able to compress man-years of work into a few calendar months to provide a much-needed technology solution for ComLinQ's business challenge. Veeda ensured successful implementation of ComLinQ's core calling system operational functionality including basic Syslinq functions (pre- and post-paid calling cards), 800-forwarding, and international local access.

A Continuing Relationship

Based on Veeda Software's accurate analysis of the problem and its successful and timely implementation of an efficient solution, ComLinQ issued two subsequent contracts to Veeda to add enhanced system features and functions. As part of this continuing engagement, Veeda has already delivered a new conference calling platform and expects to roll out more functionality regularly.

Reflecting on the situation, ComLinQ's Hamer states, "Veeda Software delivered spot-on results for us - on time, on budget, as promised. I regret not having chosen them in the first place. Ultimately, their commitment, expertise, and can-do attitude saved us from a looming business disaster. We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Veeda."

Veeda Software, LLC continues to be a significant resource and contributor to ComLinQ's success as a key telephony service provider.