Back to the (Phone) Future! Changing roles!

The only constant is change! And… sometimes things come full circle. I’m changing roles at AWS. Back to the Future!

I start a new role at AWS on November 1. I’m joining the Amazon Chime SDK team to form their Developer Advocacy/Technical Evangalism function. My job will be to help folks learn how to best use this amazing AWS service to revolutionize their communications.

What is it? I tell non-technical folks that it’s cloud services that let you build your own Zoom… with or without using real phone calls to connect. Need a way to call some phone numbers and play a message? Need a way to let callers do some interactions from their phone keys to navigate to the right person? Need to dial in from a phone and join a meeting? Amazon Chime SDK does all that, and much more! Please check out the Chime SDK FAQs to learn more from the official channels. Chime SDK is literally the building blocks for Amazon’s own Chime applications - exposed for others to use as a cloud service.

The big question some of you might be asking is “why?” For that, my friends, we need a history lesson. The tl;dr version is that I spent much of the earlier part of my career building software for telephony, internet telephony (VoIP), and then streaming video. Then cloud came along and I worked at Rackspace, more video, Cisco (video and then cloud), and then to AWS… again in cloud. Chime SDK is what happens when you bring all that telephony and video and make it 100% cloud-enabled. It’s like folding the first half of my career over onto the second half in some kind of time-mobius strip of technology. It’s perfect for me! WebRTC meet the PSTN! This technology used to be hard to build (I know - I built it once!) but now it’s vastly easier to use.

We are at the begining of a new age of communication. The Pandemic locked us all at home, doing meetings over Zoom, WebEx, and Amazon’s own Chime (which many folks don’t even know is like Zoom and WebEx, but I think it’s better in many ways). How we work has changed. We will do more online meetings, more collaboration, more “work” from non-traditional places. The phone system is still a core bedrock for most folks, but the Internet is a river of change. Chime SDK melds those two worlds - in a very cloudy way. The ability to generate voice from Amazon Polly and transcribe voice into text using Amazon Transcribe changes the game completely. And when you starting tying ML/AI into the mix… it’s a whole new ball game.

I did my hacking before I made the leap. If you are interested, check out my firstCall app that does the most basic thing one can do: call into a real phone number, have it play a recording and hang up. It uses the Chime SDK, of course, but also the AWS CDK, IAM, and Lambda services. It was a fun hack to just kick the tires and see what was real. It’s REAL!

I can’t wait to get started and see where we can take this technology. Back to the Future! “Roads? Where we are going we don’t need roads!” It’s the cloud!

Disclaimer: as usual, all opinions here are my own and not my employers.

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