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January 2017 Partner Updates


Guest Irina
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IN THIS
ISSUE

 
⁃                     End-of-Life for Kazoo UI Announced/ Sunsetting the old provisioner
⁃                     New Service Plans
⁃                     New Documentation Initiative Launched
⁃                     Pricing
⁃                     In the Hopper

End-of-Life for Kazoo UI & Sun-Setting Provisioner
 
At KazooCon we announced we’ll be sun-setting the old Kazoo user interface and we’ve received feedback that many users aren’t ready to switch to SmartPBX. However, we’ve confirmed that all the features available in Kazoo UI are now available in Monster UI’s Advanced Call flows application.
 
We know change is hard. We know there may be a hurdle in learning the new GUI or convincing your \partners/resellers to switch. That’s why we’re providing a 3-month window to adjust to this transition.
 
Please begin planning to switch to Monster UI now. We will hold webinars to help answer questions about how to do this, and aid in the transition.
 
For planning purposes, the Kazoo UI portals and associated services will be scheduled for permanent shutdown on March 31st, 2017. If you have questions, please utilize our forum to ask – we’re happy to help and we want to make this seamless for you and your users.  
 
Another key initiative tied to the Kazoo/Monster UI upgrade, is Provisioner. The original Provisioner server is slowly becoming obsolete as the software no longer allows upgrade capability. Additionally, any changes attempted in the previous server result in new bugs and potentially a complete system shutdown.
 
Migrating to the new provisioner server allows a more stable platform, which provides an environment for minimal bug activity and quick resolution of issues that arise. In addition, the new server provide more robust security, enhanced of device compatibility and updated firmware.
 
Over the next few weeks you should be seeing a more in-depth blog article that will deep dive into the additional benefits and functionality of the new Provisioner service, so stay tuned.


New Service Plans
 
2600Hz has not updated customer contracts and pricing on a global basis, ever. This is a problem because our older contracts don’t cover the concepts of Mobile, an App Exchange and are not up to date with some requirements that the FCC, our service providers and our lawyers require us to have written into every contract.
 
We’re using the 2017 New Year as a chance to refresh EVERYONE’S contracts. If you’ve signed recently, this may just be a verbiage update with no pricing changes. If you haven’t had a contract renewal or pricing update in years, then there may be some pricing adjustments as well. In most cases, customers have seen their price decrease for each user or device in the system.
 
When we first floated this concept last year to partners, the only point of contention we heard was phasing out of unlimited support plans. Please note that we have made this a mandate for Q1 2017. 2600Hz will shift to a per-hour or package billing structure for all support services, which aligns with the introduction of our new customer support portal. The purpose of this is simple – we’re tired of debating what is and isn’t included in support. We want you to be able to write us about pretty much anything, but that’s expensive. We also want to increase support response times and staff size. To do that, we need the money to pay for those people, and their training, so we need people to pay for what they use. Note that the common concern we heard was that you’d be billed for support tickets which have a root cause in 2600Hz server management or upgrades that were outside your control. Please note that issues caused by 2600Hz, where it’s clear that 2600Hz is at fault and qualify as "it worked before, and now it doesn't" are not billable and won’t impact your support credits.
 
When we begin rolling our new contracts out, you will receive a pop-up dialog in your Monster GUI indicating you have a new contract to sign. It will include the contract verbiage and pricing structure. As a convenience, you’ll be able to E-Sign the new contracts right from your portal. Doing so will allow us to change your service plan to one that includes more apps, including the ones being announced below. As always, you can utilize the forums or contact us directly if you have any questions about the new contracts or pricing.

Pricing Plans


As announced at KazooCon, 2600Hz has spent over $2 million in labor costs upgrading to 4.0 and improving the base of the system so we could support services like Call Queues. In an effort to recoup the money spent on these endeavors, we are releasing call queues as our first licensed product. For all customers,  we are tossing around ideas on pricing for the feature that will cover the costs to build it, continued maintenance and costs for usage. After researching other products, many of which claim to "include" queues (but do so with much higher fees, such as RingCentral where the minimum monthly fee is $34.99/month for small businesses to have queues), we came to a pricing model that we think will work for everyone.  With queues that are more feature rich in design than what is out there, we settled on a base fee + wholesale per-agent/queue fee.
 
Our base licensing fee for activating call queues will be $499/month. This is to turn it on and get access to it. In addition, we'll charge $3/agent configured and $10/queue configured.
 
For some math on this, this fee structure translates to a reseller who might have 10 accounts that use call queues across 200 agents and 20 queues equaling $129.90/customer for queues, or $5.49/agent plus $10/queue. We think this is inline with market wholesale rates for this feature and provides plenty of markup opportunity with customers. The pricing gets cheaper after that since the base fee does not increase and is spread across more customers.  We believe this will give you a lot of flexibility on your profit margins while offering something that your clients have been asking for.
 
Since Call Queues Lite is not feature complete, we're going to offer it for free until February 28th, 2017. You can turn it on and activate it for your customers at your convenience. This also gives us time to work out any kinks in the software and allows you to provide it to your customers on a free trial basis.

New Documentation Initiative Launched

 
We have heard for years that customers want more documentation. The problem has always been that the specifics of what people want have ALWAYS been different – some people care more about APIs. Others want more information on provisioning obscure features on phones. Others still want niche information, such as handling hotel wake up calls. While requests may SEEM similar or even obvious at times, the reality is the system currently supports over 300 features which can be chained together in a myriad of ways. Today, 2600Hz supports over 1,500 unique use cases on how people use our system.
 
Our answer to this has been a year’s worth of meetings, discussions, feedback collection and studying people’s behaviors to develop a set of collaborative, moderated documentation sites. These sites cover the five most popular features people discuss. They are:
 
* API and Software Development
* GUI and Product User Guides / Tutorials
* System Administration / Cluster and Software Management
* UI Application Development
* Mobile Services
 
Not all items are ready yet, but we’re launching three which we think are “good enough”, even though they are still a work in progress. The most unique part of this endeavor is that we designed the entire thing in a way where engineers and casual users could contribute and help guide the documentation. We hope to use topics from the forums, feedback we receive through support tickets and JIRA and the general willingness of some customers to “chip-in” to help produce one of the best documentation sites in the industry.
 
We’re working on the last part of this system which also allows us to reward the most frequent contributors for their labor and efforts. We’ll be introducing those features sometime this year. For now, the collaborative effort alone is hopefully rewarding enough and the fact that documentation will begin being produced at a much faster rate should make everyone happier.
 
Please join us in improving on the documentation – we are looking for feedback and, more importantly, contributions! The site is now live (but still actively being developed and a “work in progress”!) at http://docs.2600hz.com/
 

In the Hopper
 
Make Busy
Our make busy tool is a full system simulator that has been around for a while but was too hard to use. Its purpose is to simulate every call scenario possible in the system. That’s a big ask!
 
We’ve worked hard over the past few months to figure out ways to make this tool more effective. It is now integrated into our build process for the first time ever. This means that every time someone commits some code, the tool runs a series of simulations – things like “does creating a device work?” or “does calling voicemail and leaving a message work?”. Over 100 checks currently exist, and now are run every time something is changed.
 
Going forward, as engineers fix bugs, they will also create a new check. This means that whatever gets broken, and then fixed, hopefully can’t ever break again. Over time, we hope to build up a massive suite of tests which allow for the product to be rock-solid, always. More important, we avoid having to hire a massive QA team (expensive!) which keeps your rates low, while being able to provide even more features to more users reliably and in less time.
 
Sandbox Access + Alpha/Beta Program
We’re pleased to have built a sandbox system that is now available to all resellers. Usernames and passwords will soon be sent to all users and will allow you to participate in a formal alpha and beta program which are now part of our release process. This allows you to get a sneak peek and try out all new features in the system before they go live to your customers, and also select customers of your own to beta new features with before releasing the feature to all your customers. App Exchange apps will be tagged as alpha or beta in the GUI to indicate the state of the application as it progresses through this new cycle.
 
If you have additional questions or comments around any of the discussed initiatives in this update, please don’t hesitate to utilize our community or contact us directly for more details.
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One feature that Kazoo has that Monster doesn't is letting you free-form the caller ID at the account level. In Kazoo you can manually enter it, but in Monster you have to select from a drop down (in advanced call flows). Will this functionality be added? I know you can use Monster to manually enter it on each device, but I am wanting to do this at the account level.

Also, will the Kazoo shutdown affect existing devices that have not been provisioned with the new provisioner yet? I know we won't be able to provision new devices or change config on existing devices, but what about just using existing ones? Will they stop working? I doubt we can go through and finishing converting all devices by March which is why I am concerned.
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"One feature that Kazoo has that Monster doesn't is letting you free-form the caller ID at the account level."

> I'll check into how we can do this. Historically, the problem has been that people are setting this incorrectly, or to numbers they don't own, or worse, to toll-free numbers (which is a big no-no for billing purposes on outbound calls). I'll see what we can do here. We've had the request from partners to do the opposite ironically, not allow this.

"Will the Kazoo shutdown affect existing devices that have not been provisioned with the new provisioner yet?"

> In theory, the phones will just keep trying to pull a new config and never get one, so they'll continue using the old one. We're tempted to deploy something that lets you, on a phone by phone basis, point the phone itself on it's next check-in to the new provisioner so that you don't have to gain access to the phones.
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We would like the ability to do this because we often times do new system setups and need to have their caller ID showing their actual business number before we submit the porting paper work. We like to fully install prior to submitting the port request, and because you manually do it there is often a delay before the DID is entered into the system on your end. Even with the new port manager though, it doesn't appear to let you use the DIDs in any capacity (including setting caller ID) if they are in port-in state.

We tried simply changing the provisioning URL on some phones and it did some funky things. We decided to factory reset the phones first before changing the provisioning URL, so while that sounds cool, we probably wouldn't want it.
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Just to add to that Karl...

In cases where we need to set the caller id via Monster while waiting on a port, we've been able to open a ticket with 2600hz and have them pre-populate the number for us. It will be nice when that's automated as Darren mentioned, but they can do it for you manually now, just via a ticket. Hope that helps!
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