Last week a rocking big story broke in the Wall Street Journal about Tello, a company that has extremely deep roots in VoIP, especially when you realize that the essence of the company is Presence, and the person who has been championing presence almost as long as he has been championing VoIP is Jeff Pulver.
It was back in the 90’s when Jeff and his original incarnation of the VON crew (meaning pre Key3Media buy out days) and Jeff’s later relaunch of VON, held the first real event on Presence and what it means. That seven plus year journey provided the seeds for what Tello will become.
You also have to look at Jeff’s efforts with the Pulver Communicator. Long before anyone was really delivering interoperability in VoIP, Jeff’s crew was building a messaging client that was both Voice and IM and was working on multiple platforms, between disparate networks flawlessly. I truly believe had Skype not come along, Pulver and his vision was well on its way with the FWD Communicator to really be the disruptive force in communications that Skype has become.
So enter Tello.
Pulver began working this long before it came to be, but when the stars aligned and he was able to make rain, he did, joining forces with mobile pioneer Craig McCaw, telecom dealmaker Michael Price and VC John Scully. Yes the same John Scully of Apple days gone bye.
Along with a CEO, Doug Renert, who comes complete with a background from Oracle, Pulver and crew are setting out to continue Jeff’s vision. A vision which, unless you have been around long enough to understand, is about as clear as anyone’s in communications. The problem is, like some others of us, Jeff sees around corners, and already has a clear picture of what can be, given what is available.
With Tello that vision of easily connect to whomever you need to be is what the view clearly is.
Over the past week three or four people asked me about how similar to my agency’s client, iotum, and their Relevance Engine Tello is.
The answer, which is as plain as day to iotum co-founder Alec Saunders and myself, as their advisor, was not as easy to discern based on initial news accounts, until it was explained.
To me, Tello is about the enterprise and how disparate networks are able to be linked together to enable collaboration and communications. The need to communicate with partners, suppliers and customers is growing, as people travel less, work more in collaboration and communicate from more than just the office.
With the mobile workforce on the rise, and more people working virtually, access and being connected takes a role front and center, the way the weekly staff meeting used to.
Interoperability is a myth. Integration into regular business process is a dream, that only really Microsoft, Apple and IBM are in a position to dominate or are actually working on, while others all claim to be trying. But trying isn’t the same as doing, and Tello is seeking to do, not try.
As Om and others have pointed out, the silos are here more than they are being broken down, and as I have said before we are Balkanizing the Internet by not working really in a federated fashion. Tello, like a few other new and emerging companies are moving in that direction the right way.
So after reaching out to Jeff and affirming what we on the inside already knew, CEO Doug Renert and I had a very good up front talk about Tello and just what it’s setting out to do. Renert also provided me with some very solid background which I’m including here along with my comments, for one simple reason. It needs to be stated.
Here’s what I learned, with some really good help from Jeff and Doug:
1. What Tello does?
Tello provides a hosted Instant Communications and Collaboration service, with complementary client applications, that allows users to instantly locate, contact, and connect with others across their business communities over the different systems, devices and applications they already use.
Any application running on the Tello service, including their own clients, can show at a glance the availability of contacts at any time anywhere in the world and initiate multi-modal communications with the click of a mouse or push of a button.
Andy says→This is what being Presence enabled is exactly all about.
Tello makes this happen by "federating" the different real time communication systems in the market and has an open platform allowing any other application to run on top of it and to serve as the core user interface, launch from it instantaneously within a live communication session, or trigger it so users can find their contacts at critical times.
Andy says→This means that application engines and programs like iotum work with, and don’t compete with Tello. Even Microsoft’s LCS or Skype could work with it and use it. It is meant to be a platform, and agnostic, not parochial.
2. How Tello is going to market?
Because Tello supports entire "trusted" communities of business users, the service has to support anything from a large enterprise to an individual. It just so happens that many individual businesspeople have close relationships with large firms and SMBs and vice versa.
Tello serve these communities with the two Tello solutions available today: Tello Basic and Tello Enterprise
Tello Basic is targeted for the individual business user, and Tello Enterprise extends Tello Basic with features for the enterprise like the ability to integrate and display Telephony presence from the enterprise's telephony (PBX) network or instant messaging system.
The Tello Basic service along with the client applications is available now in a beta trial at no charge. It does not have all the functionality they plan to add, but it does cross mobile and IM networks and provide instant collaboration capabilities. They leverage user input during the beta process to drive our focus and direction for individuals.
Tello Enterprise is available for direct purchase from Tello, has run in beta with a number of companies in 2005, and will often be implemented in conjunction with our systems partners like Avaya, Digium, etc.
Andy says→ this is much like the open exchange platform that many Fortune 1000 companies use to manage purchase orders and invoices, only this time someone has taken the same idea and federated Voice and IM to stop redundancy and reduce costs, making it easier to communicate and collaborate over various networks that do not regularly peer with one another.
Hopefully this helps clarify, not more confuse anyone…The exercise has sure helped me.