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Ming Guang Yong, CEO, Voiceroute

By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

Voiceroute’s original claim to fame is that its Druid Unified Communications Server not only added a GUI to Digium’s open source Asterisk IP PBX (News - Alert), but actually added functionality, such as IM-based call control, a rich end user communications portal, Shared Line Appearances (SLA), unified communications (UC) capabilities, and Microsoft (News - Alert) Active Directory.

As it happens, there are two Druid versions: Druid OSE (Open Source Edition, and Druid UCS (Unified Communications (News - Alert) Server, Whereas many competitors’ “commercial division” merely offers the same open source product, but now with support, Voiceroute (News - Alert) goes further by certifying, testing and making Druid UCS a focused product with clear roadmap and exclusive enterprise functionality. The open source version is built on IMAP and XMPP. It brings together voicemail, VoIP, mobile telephony, faxes and instant messaging, along with plug-and-play handset provisioning, AJAX-based administration of your IP telephony system, and a rich web user portal accessible from a mobile phone with mobile bridging. It also offers a unified mailbox for faxes and voicemail and IM-based call control and messaging.

Yours Truly recently spoke with Ming Guang Yong, CEO of Voiceroute.

RG: Tell me about Druid’s origins.

MGY: We’re more than just a software-based phone system. I would prefer for us to be known as a unified communications [UC] software provider. We are the first commercial UC distribution on Asterisk (News - Alert), and we now have a complete LDAP The company was founded by myself and Vikram Rangnekar in 2006. We were one of the first commercial GUIs on the web based on Digium (News - Alert)’s Asterisk. Initially everything was Asterisk plus what was then a PHP-based GUI running on top. Over time we received customer feedback and it became very clear to us that unified communications was the way to go. People want more than just a GUI on top of Asterisk, they want a fully-functional communications system that’s integrated with applications. I mean ‘applications’ in a most general sense: It could be a client application on the phone, or a desktop application, or something running on the web, or a CRM application such as the commercial open source SugarCRM or even (News - Alert). A fully-blown UC system is what makes people productive and gives companies real ROI for any IT system.

Over time we’ve evolved to become a full distribution with plug-and-play IP telephony where we support six brands of phone: Aastra, Cisco (News - Alert), Polycom, snom, Grandstream, even Mitel. When I say ‘support’ I mean more than just typing in a MAC address. For Polycom and Aastra in particular, you can just plug in the phone and they’ll automatically be detected, assigned MAC and IP addresses, and an extension will be provisioned. Some of our competitors misuse the term auto-provisioning, claiming that they auto-provision phones, but in their case you still have to type in a MAC address. In the case of our system, you don’t have to touch anything, as long as your switch is VLAN tagged so you just plug in the phone and it will appear on the system and automatically be assigned its own VLAN and configuration files. So our first distinction is plug-and-play telephony.

Our second distinguishing feature is mobility. Extensions can be mapped to any IP phone you wish. With a few clicks, an extension can be moved from one phone to another. We are totally mobile, even allowing you to use your Blackberry. You can actually change your call routing, check your voicemail, do remote dialing, all from your Blackberry. We’re also be launching an iPhone (News - Alert) application too. So in terms of the key value propositions we provide, mobility is one, and then we have desktop and web functionality. For example, we have an application where you can see the presence status of other people and you can drag and drop people from your buddy list to make a call. It integrates with multiparty applications such as SugarCRM, Salesforce and even Google (News - Alert) Apps.

RG: What else is ‘under the hood’?

MGY: We have a complete LDAP server and integration with Active Directory, so you can use a single login. We are also the first company to offer real-time master-to-master replication of Asterisk-based solutions. We offer true Asterisk server redundancy, so you can have two servers — a master and a clone. If one server shuts off for some reason, you’ll immediately switch over to the other, not as a ‘cold spare’ as offered by our competitors. So we have quite a system.

Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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