Automated Phone Calls For Good. Honest!
July 13, 2012 5:43 AM   Subscribe

I need a service that will allow me to generate an automated call to a small group of telephone numbers in the event of a software failure.

I am responsible for a number of mission-critical servers that can find themselves in a number of less-than-useful states that aren't actually crashes.

What I want to do is to write my own monitoring application that makes the decision about whether or not a phone call is required, and then have my application send a message to a third-party service that will actually place the call. Points of note:

- Small number of calls per incident; between 2-5.
- Ideally, I would like the interface to be a web service. I would rather not install custom applications. Installing a library for my application to use is perfectly okay.
- The ability to record a custom message would be nice, but is not a must-have.
- Calls would all be placed to the United States.

I am aware of Twilio, but I would like to be able to present a number of alternatives to the decision-makers.

Thank you!
posted by DWRoelands to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might want to try googling "IVR cloud services" (IVR = Interactive Voice Response).
One such company that provides these types of services is Voice Shot. [I don't work for them nor do I use their products.]
posted by elmay at 5:46 AM on July 13, 2012

Sounds like you want a Nagios plugin that calls your third party call placement service. Or, yknow, slap a modem in the thing and have it make the call itself.
posted by bfranklin at 6:00 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I realize you know about it already, but Twillio is great- it was designed for this type of thing. Another alternative would be to use SMS messages instead of phone calls- most services have an email to sms gateway; that way you don't have to worry (much) about missed calls, etc.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2012

Seconding modem. If you're already writing a custom application and you're willing to interface it with someone else's library, someone else's library might as well be the command set of a voice modem.

Though does it have to be a voice call? Could you send out automated text messages instead? Could you start off with a proof-of-concept text message system and then move to voice messages?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: Good responses so far, thank you!

- Modem isn't an option here, though I understand it's doable. We don't want to introduce hardware as part of this solution.
- We aren't using anything like Nagios at this time. I'll have my own app that I write for our very customized conditions and peculiar software. :)
- Twilio: I checked them out, they claim to have a c# wrapper for their API but couldn't actually find the library itself to download.

VoiceShot is VERY promising, and I would like to hear more recommendations if anyone has them. Thanks again!
posted by DWRoelands at 6:30 AM on July 13, 2012

The official c# wrapper from twilio is on github:

Looks like they have a NuGet recipe, too.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:50 AM on July 13, 2012

Plivo is another option, very similar to Twilio. But yeah, Twilio is pretty much what you're after here. It's easy to write a Twilio application even without a wrapper library—if you can make HTTP requests, you can use the API.
posted by aparrish at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2012

You might also try Pingdom.
posted by morninj at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2012

posted by reddot at 1:32 PM on July 14, 2012

PagerDuty is awesome if your infrastructure can be setup such that you can always get emails or http requests outbound.
posted by fief at 5:20 PM on July 14, 2012

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