Ian Eldridge has been Technical Support Manager at SmartIPX since 2011. We chatted to him about his role at SmartIPX and what it entails.
What is your job title at SmartIPX?
I am Technical Support Manager, which means I’m responsible for anything related to our VoIP services. That includes everything from working with a new client, to new projects and heading up the team which look after faults and service breaks.
How does that work in a practical setting?
I will use one of our newer clients, Stour Marine, as an example. They are a customer with a PaaS (Platform as a Service).We gave them a partition within our SBC (session border controller) Cataleya which allows them to see and manage all their own circuits, settings and billing information, at any time.
We helped them set up the SBC to their specific requirements – a complicated integration to Vodafone. During the entire time, I project managed their onboarding and worked with Cataleya to ensure that Stour Marine was supported with everything they needed. Stour Marine operate their partition on a day-to-day basis but I am there to assist with faults, maintenance, and manipulation of the service and to act as their contact with Cataleya.
What else are you involved in at SmartIPX?
Everything is centred around SBC management. SBC is the focal point of everything SmartIPX does but we still have old smart switches which need looking after, along with in-house built voucher systems and other pre-pay platforms, which I am responsible for. My job bestrides client support and working with suppliers to make sure what we’re getting is what our clients need.
Will all SmartIPX services switch to Cataleya?
We are trying to move everything across but there currently is no single solution which negates the need for a Smartswitch. Things like authentication have to be handled by Smartswitches. At the moment we are working with Cataleya to build that kind of functionality in during Q2/3 2015.
How do you work with the rest of the delivery team?
Randolph Stewart and I work closely together. I use the service desk team for out of hours calls and for overnight and weekend stuff and I’m on call to deal with priority events. I work closely with Ole Steffen Hylby-Henriksen, our Commercial Manager/Support Engineer, on RT (ticketing system). Steffen produces reports on calls answered/tickets closed, which is vital KPI information both for ourselves and our clients. Steffen is also responsible for the rate cards for correct billing (rate cards handle per minute billing costs for customers for calls). He measures it and reports back and I make sure that the service is delivered to our clients.
I also work more closely with Gael Martin, our Senior Architect and Technical Design Authority, than with anyone else. He is the go to man for Smartswitches. He’s also our technical developer so any concept management is done via him for development.
My role is much more a bespoke position: it’s reactionary. For example, another client of ours, a global financial services brand, have 10 to 12 hour long conference calls and if anything goes wrong, we have to be on hand to respond to that. There are challenges with routing traffic in a 99.99% uptime guarantee. There are out of control issues, one example being when we had someone in a server centre external to SmartIPX walked past and accidentally pulled a power lead out of the wall. We have to react to that, find out why a server connection just went down and put processes in place to prevent it happening again. Of course, we are still reliant on the Internet for certain types of routing and that means that sometimes there can Internet induced IP routing issues.
How long have you been working for SmartIPX?
I joined in 2011. I was brought in to help out with a specific technical issue Steffen was having with a customer who needed lots of technical expertise. Before that I had worked for BT International. I started off working on an apprenticeship. Then I moved into the practical side of that out climbing up the poles, putting in the lines, then I went into the office and moved into team leadership and then back out onto international switches. I remember the first day I went into the BT building and they had a huge room with a single machine in it which was receiving a photo via fax from South Africa for (international news agency) Reuters to use. It took six hours to come through a line at a time.