Sun has been chewed up and spit out by Linux. Tasks that
used to need high-powered Sun servers are now routinely being performed by
banks of Linux servers. As Intel and AMD keep pumping out chips with
ever-increasing performance levels at lower prices, Sun will continue to
take a beating. Microsoft too is feeling the competition from Linux.
(Disclosure: I have owned Microsoft stock for a few years now). And
although Microsoft has a much broader product base than Sun, including
desktop software, which has been heretofore immune to the Linux onslaught,
it is not impossible to imagine Linux invading the desktop in the next few
Budget Conscious IT Spending
IT budgets were slashed to the bone a few years back and as a result,
technical people in companies had to scrounge to be able to roll out new
applications and services. This slashing of budgets coincided with a
wealth of available PCs that used to belong to now laid-off personnel. So
while Linux adoption was once just a fad for Microsoft haters, the number
of Linux servers in companies is ever increasing. This is especially the
case as Linux runs comfortably on older computers that the latest MS OS
canï¿½t even install on! IT people generally love Linux and for good
reason -- aside from the cost aspect, Linux boxes are rock-solid and have
to be rebooted only a fraction as often as most Microsoft operating
systems (if at all). Linux also suffers from less virus attacks than
Microsoft operating systems (although they are certainly not immune from
Database on the Cheap
Applications are another area where open source solutions are taking root.
An example is the database business, which is being challenged by products
like MySQL, Firebird, and PostgreSQL. Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft will feel
the ever-increasing pressure of competing with open source databases.
Why Open Source Will Be Playing In An IT Department Near You
The reason that open source is doing so well, aside from it being free
and customizable, is that open source products can be as reliable as their
commercial counterparts. There are still benefits to owning commercial
database software but open source is good enough for the majority of
deployed applications. It is very tough if not impossible to compete
against free, more customizable and sometimes more reliable software. Open
source will wreak havoc in every market it touches. This process wonï¿½t
happen overnight but look to Sun as the first casualty in the open source
versus commercial war with others to follow.
The Open Source PBX
One of the next frontiers for open source is telecom. It is here, in this
space, where a company called Asterisk
is making a name for itself by offering an open source Linux PBX including
voice mail, IVR, auto attendant, overhead paging, call parking, VoIP, PRI
compatibility with many CO switches, SIP, H.323, and many codecs including
GSM and G.729 (commercial license required) to name but two.
Currently youï¿½ll find Asterisk (or * as it is referred to frequently on
message boards) in corporations where the IS staff is enterprising enough
to set this type of telephony server up. You will also find it in numerous
CLECs that wonï¿½t share this fact with anyone as it is a significant
competitive advantage. I had a chance to ask some questions of Greg Vance
of Digium (see Q&A to determine the relationship between Asterisk
RT: How long has Asterisk been around?
GV: We have been in development for four and a half years. Most
of the development has been in the past two years since announcing
hardware. We have nine full-time people, and we have about 90 Asterisk
RT: What is the relationship between Asterisk and Digium?
GV: The president of Digium (Mark Spencer) is the author of the
Asterisk open source software.
RT: Describe the companyï¿½s growth.
GV: Weï¿½re growing very fast, in fact we grew 300 percent over
this time last year.
RT: How do you compete with GNU Bayonne?
GV: We are a PBX/IVR gateway platform they are mostly an IVR
switch. Bayonne is written in c++ , Asterisk is written in C. Vovida is
also another project written in C++ which is a softswitch.
RT: Are there any other serious open source PBX companies that
keep you awake at night?
RT: What has been the reaction of Avaya and Cisco to all of
this talk of an open-source PBX?
GV: We havenï¿½t had any reaction from them. I think we are under
their radar at the moment. However, the users are very enthusiastic. We
have many who want to eliminate their Cisco equipment or interoperate with
Asterisk. When they look at the price of these systems versus Asterisk, itï¿½s
a no brainer. We know that both Avaya and Cisco have Asterisk running in
their lab, but we have not had contact with either company in a formal
RT: Does your revenue come mostly from hardware and consulting?
GV: Mostly from hardware. Consulting is a growing portion of
our revenue and we expect this to increase significantly next year.
RT: So are you the manufacturer of the Wildcard line of
RT: How can I get a link to success stories using asterisk?
GV: We are going to have a success story link on our Web site
soon for people to add their stories but, we do not have one at the
moment. Also, check the mailing list archives (on our site).
RT: Can you please elaborate on IAXtel.com?
GV: This network is sponsored by Digium to other Asterisk users to
allow for the interconnection of * servers around the world for anyone.
The IAXtel server resides in Huntsville, AL containing an interactive
phone book that keeps track of phone numbers and user info. Users sign up
for an account and get a 1-700 phone number, user name, and password. They
can take their * anywhere in the world and connect to other * users.
RT: Is it as successful as you planned?
GV: We really have not planned a strategy. Whatever success or
strategy there is was born out of the Asterisk community. It was created
to help the Asterisk users communicate.
RT: Where is the take-up in your distribution? Can you say how
many enterprise customers you have and how many service providers?
GV: We have a network of resellers who serve their local
communities for Asterisk PBXs. Others create products such as gateways or
IVR platforms. Our distributors stock products and serve the reseller
market. I will say we have thousands of enterprise customers. No way to
knowing exactly but based on the hardware we have sold it is in the
Digium Founder To Present Session at INTERNET
TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO Miami 2004
Mark Spencer, President of Digium and the author of
Asterisk, will present the following session on 2/12/04:
12:45 - 1:30 pm
Opportunities for International Business Development
Moderator - Marcelo Rodriguez, Editor/Publisher, Voxilla.com
Ravi Sakaria, President, CEO and co-founder, VoicePulse
Mark Spencer, President of Digium and the author of Asterisk
IP Telephony is truly a global phenomenon -- and the
opportunities to be successful with an innovative product or service
span the globe. Unfortunately, anyone who has navigated the murky
and sometimes turbulent waters of selling products and services in a
foreign land knows the many challenges that awaits a company looking
to expand into International markets. Items on every company's
expansion checklist include certifications and distribution,
locating appropriate corporate digs and staffing, finding reliable
suppliers and dealing with shipping and fulfillment ï¿½ the list
goes on and on. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the uncertainty
and learn (and profit) from the mistakes of others. Attend this
session to discover the techniques and strategies for managing a
successful international expansion.
The open source PBX concept is just beginning to catch on. It is not
generally well knownï¿½ Until now that is. The word is out and I expect it
to slowly begin to take share away from other players in the market. I
plan on following up this article with success stories at a future date to
see how open source telephony solutions work in the real world. One thing
is for certainï¿½ Commercial telecom companies are going to have to
produce even better products to compete against open source solutions and
customers are going to have more and better choices when choosing a
VoIP 911 Issues Now Solved
The FCC is up in arms about VoIP service not connecting to 911, and they
are right to be concerned. There is no universal solution to this problem
and there should be. I recently came across and witnessed an impressive
demo from a company called Netfabric
that may have solved the problem for many of us. Their Cashmere line of
routers is an amazing series of products designed to allow you to have all
the benefits of VoIP without losing the benefits of the PSTN.
In other words, you use IP telephony for the majority of your outbound
phone calls but if the quality of service (QoS) decreases below a preset
threshold or there is no data connection, the device immediately switches
all subsequent phone calls to the PSTN. Yes, you will have to have PSTN
lines but what you will have is the best of the IP and legacy worlds and
you can benefit from the best each has to offer. Another benefit of this
solution is the ability to retain your current telephone number. This isnï¿½t
always possible with IP telephony.
Other benefits of this product line include the ability to take a key
system unit (KSU - a typical small phone system) and allow it to integrate
with CRM packages allowing call logs and screen pops. There is much more
to this deviceï¿½ You can enjoy the features of a much larger phone system
such as being able to look at call logs over the Internet and blocking
calls to 800 numbers, 900 numbers, long distance, etc. You can even block
a single telephone number from being called if you like (perhaps the local
headhunter?) You can also share a single voicemail system with multiple
lines using this device.
There will soon be an XML interface allowing Web-based applications to
tell you things like the average number of rings, call duration, abandon
rate, and other vital details. Although you can gain access to this data
over the Web with the currently available software, it will be a lot
smoother with XML.
Pricing for this device is extremely reasonable and at these levels a no
brainer for any SME. A four-port or 2x2 system (two lines x two trunks)
costs only $295. Eight ports will set you back a mere $495. A T1 and 8x8
versions are in the works. The company believes the ROI on the box to be
in the neighborhood of a few weeks or months. I agree that that is easily
within the realm of possibility for any corporation using the phone a
moderate amount of time.
The system works with any VoIP service provider and is being trialed
currently by VonTek. VonTek is an
alliance partner with Vonage. VonTek is focused on the VoIP market for
small and medium-sized enterprises, which is why they have aligned with
Netfabric. For the resellers or the small business that wants the benefits
of VoIP and none of the drawbacks, the Netfabric/Vontek solution is
perfection pure and simple. Every problem that VoIP has from the potential
for poor quality to 911 issues is now solved. For those of you sleeping
until VoIP advances to the next level before you adopt it, here is your
wake up call.
Tehraniï¿½s IP Telephony Dictionary:
We are being overwhelmed with the response to this resource. This is the
newest and most up-to-date dictionary covering converged communications. I
receive weekly calls from happy customers. This is the only resource you
need to understand all the acronyms and terms in the confusing space of
voice, video, fax, and data convergence. See what the buzz is all about at
IP Telephony Killer Apps
I wanted to let you know that we have spent hours improving our Internet
Telephony show to make this the best show you can attend to learn about
VoIP. Aside from the best speakers you will see anywhere -- such as
Mun-Yuen Leong, Chief Technology Officer for Avaya, and high-level
speakers from Microsoft, Siemens, Cisco, Alcatel, MCI, Lucent, AT&T
etc. -- we have launched Tehraniï¿½s IP Telephony Killer apps, which will
be the most productive hour you will ever spend learning about VoIP. This
will be a showcase of live demonstrations of the hottest IP telephony
solutions on the market. I hope to see you there. Remember, the show is
being held February 11-13, 2004 in Miami. Check out www.itexpo.com for details.
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2004 Table Of Contents ]