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January 21, 2009

ITEXPO Presenter's Prediction: Open Source Solutions to Take Over by 2010

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief

Naturally, open source technologies – including the popular telephony platform, Asterisk (News - Alert) – will be featured at 2009 Digium Asterisk World, an event co-located with the Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, from Feb. 2 to 4 in Miami.

Generally speaking, one way that businesses are trying to offset this slowing economy is by boosting production through efficient, IP-based communications, presence and collaboration.
As we’ve already seen, many are doing this at no cost – witness the 1.5 million Asterisk downloads last year.
That’s a big number. As I’ve discussed, CTI (News - Alert) and the promise of openness drove huge growth and innovation in telecom in the nineties. In this decade it’s open source, IP communications and UC that are carrying the torch first lit by the promise of open platforms.
It’s not surprising, then, that many say Asterisk technology is the right fit in this economy for contact center operations.
On the first day of the ITEXPO, Matthew Nickasch, an independent IP communications consultant as well as an analyst with Lancaster, Wisconsin-based Richgels/Schaefer Insurance will lead a session addressing that topic.
Nickasch will discuss how Asterisk allows feature-rich integration and interoperability to exist with significant cost savings over other platforms, and he’ll also participate in a Digium (News - Alert) Asterisk World panel discussion titled “Reduce Costs and Gain a Competitive Advantage with Open Source Based Call Centers.”
We’re expecting a lively discussion about leveraging open source in the contact center environment.
As we learned during an interview with Nickasch, printed in full below, he boldly suggests that within two years, open source solutions will overtake proprietary strongholds.
Our exchange follows.
Rich Tehrani: Who has influenced you most in your career and why?
Matthew Nickasch: I firmly believe that all of the people who I work with on a day-to-day basis are extremely influential. It’s the ability to “see the other perspective” and learn about new ideas and concepts that positively molds a career.
RT: What excites you most about our industry?
MN: The day-to-day changes, innovations, and developments that fuel our industry are extremely exciting. Not one single day is identical, and I’m extremely excited about an industry that evolves and changes at such a quick rate. The telecommunications industry is never complacent, always driving forward to develop solutions to new and challenging problems.
RT: What areas do you wish you could devote more energy/attention/resources?
MN: Time is a critical factor in today’s world – with more time, I would like to collaborate with others on large-scale ideas and problems. Sometimes, the key “big-idea” questions are never answered because of a lack of time.
RT: What pain does your company take away for customers?
MN: As an independent consultant, I focus on delivering customized solutions that integrate technologies with business needs. Simply advocating a drop-In solution is easy, but organizations need more focused solutions to operate more efficiently.
RT: How did your company get to where it is and where is it headed?
MN: In order to maintain a healthy business relationship, communication is essential. Building on the foundation of constant and effective communication, we can develop more powerful and innovative solutions.
RT: What does your dream mobile device look like?
MN: My dream mobile device provides all of the functionality that I need, while staying incredibly simple. Devices that are too intricate or complicated waste valuable time.
RT: If you were forced to head Nokia, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, GM, Cisco (News - Alert), Nortel or the United States … Which would you pick and why?
MN: As somebody in the convergence and IP communications markets, I would choose either Cisco, or Nortel (10 years ago) to head. The opportunity for growth and development is astonishing, as are the capabilities of these tremendous workforces.
RT: Poof – you become President Obama’s top advisor on tech. What should he do to foster more technology use in the United States and abroad?
MN: It’s not always about implementing new technologies, but utilizing the most out of existing technologies, that is important. We should be using our great achievements in technology everywhere – from energy efficiency, to communications, national security, and more. If we don’t realize what existing technologies we have available to us, how can we be successful in developing new strategies to solve difficult global problems?
RT: How has open source changed our space and what more can it do for us?
MN: Open source is truly a wondrous charity of ideas and talented people that make up the community. We need to tap every ounce of open source potential through project collaboration.
RT: When does Microsoft become a major force in communications?
MN: In order for Microsoft to become a major communications force, a strategic vision and market integration, from SMB to large enterprise markets, needs to be realized. Microsoft needs a clear-cut plan to present to the public that will make Microsoft a no-brainer communications force.
RT: Apple? RIM, Nokia (News - Alert)?
MN: Apple, RIM, and Nokia are in similar situations as Microsoft – show us a strategic top-to-bottom plan that will get corporate and enterprise markets excited about convergence once again.
RT: What surprised you most about 2008?
MN: The subsequent decline of the entire global economy was surprising, and it continues to have major negative effects on the entire telecommunications industry. I’m cautiously optimistic about 2009, however, significant changes and overall stabilization will need to occur before any industry can gain a reasonable footing once again.
RT: Assuming we need it (and who couldn’t use some extra cash), what do we tell Congress to get a multibillion dollar U.S. government communications bailout?
MN: Telecommunications is the lifeblood of American business, commerce, and daily life. Neglecting the mission-critical communications infrastructure and economy is hurts every industry, and therefore every American in significant ways.
RT: Is the green movement dead now that oil is plummeting in cost?
MN: Green solutions and the “green movement” should never die. Oil is extremely variable, and the costs will ultimately rise again. Do we really want to launch another green movement every time Oil prices spike? Staying the course on green solutions is important in the long-run.
RT: How does IP communications help in a recession?
MN: IP communications provides significant opportunities for cost savings in our current economic state. Utilizing standards-based technologies, and encouraging interoperation will ultimately help organizations ease the economic burdens placed on them.
RT: You are speaking at ITEXPO which takes place Feb 2-4 2009 in Miami. Why do people need to hear what you say, live and in person?
MN: Consumers and decision makers in the IP communications markets need to realize that they have the power to change the marketplace. By investing in, and continuing to develop low-cost and standards-based solutions, both the industry and individual organizations will benefit immensely.
RT: Make some wild predictions about 2009/10.
MN: A congress communications and infrastructure bailout plan is passed. Open source solutions overtake proprietary strongholds.

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world�s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Michael Dinan


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