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Talking with Chris Jones of Intuitive Voice Technology

By: Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

Chris Jones is Founder, President and CEO of Intuitive Voice (News - Alert) Technology (IVT), a company whose technology brings enterprise level communications features and support to small businesses via an easy-to-use, intuitive interface. Jones has an extensive computer telephony background. He previously was a lead engineer for the elite “Advanced Voice Systems” group of MCI where he helped engineer countless innovations that shaped today’s VoIP revolution. He has also provided solutions or support to nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies over the last ten years. Jones has also contributed to major projects by Nortel, Genesys (News - Alert) and many others. He has a call center background, where he did CRM and CTI integration, making a phone system the “glue” of the enterprise. He founded IVT as an outlet to evangelize a proven process and methodology he has found to work for many other companies.

RG: Tell me about your business model.

CJ: Our product is based on Asterisk (News - Alert). Our product has a GUI interface that overlays the underlying Asterisk code. Our niche is that we are a complete solution. We integrate the phones, the Asterisk layer and the operating system. Everything is very tightly mingled together. It’s really a one-stop shop if you’re looking to deploy an Asterisk solution. It’s very easy to use. The system uses auto-discovery of your phones and settings. So we try to be a plug-and-play type of device for IP phone systems. It’s a tough claim to make but we do everything we can to make things as easy as possible.

RG: The Asterisk code is free, but you’re providing your own proprietary wrapper around that?

CJ: Yes. We do follow the Asterisk code base, so as Asterisk comes out with new releases, we move forward with them. It’s not like we took an older release of Asterisk and ‘froze it’ and started making our own contributions to it. We literally stay with the Asterisk code base; we make contributions to Asterisk and feed the project.

RG: It’s always interesting to see how open source companies make money off of the “surround stuff” of hardware, additional software and support.

CJ: The term “free” can actually do more bad than good for you, because people think they have to pay for something to get quality. Where we make our money in innovation. We provide some really innovative features on top of Asterisk. We therefore have software for which we charge. But additionally, we charge in the services and support area. Hardware is not a big area for us, but we do sell it. However, we do preinstall systems. A customer can literally dump their requirements on us, and we’ll preconfigure the system and ship it to them completely configured with their auto-attendant, with all of their phones built out, and literally in a plug-and-play condition. We also have a network of resellers across the country, so if the customer wants somebody to arrive on site and install it, we can handle that as well. Mainly we bring “polish” to the picture. We polish Asterisk and provide a complete phone system solution.

RG: So if I dissected your company, what would I see?

CJ: Right now we’ve got 10 employees. We were founded in 2005. We were one of the first Asterisk-based PBX (News - Alert) companies to launch and we were one of the first companies to put a GUI on Asterisk. When we started this project, there was no graphical interface for Asterisk at all – you were stuck with the command line options. The first release of Asterisk that we started working on was 0.72.

RG: What’s ahead for IVT and Asterisk?

CJ: Our vision for Intuitive Voice is to literally bring high-end, quality features down to the average business owner, via both Asterisk and through open source. So we’re literally giving the customer screen pops and self-automation and IVR-type features, through our Evolution PBX 3.0 platform, and we give it to them in an easy-to-implement way. And we have available professional services as well as canned products.

Additionally, we have a great team here at ITV. There’s Bill Sotto, who is our Senior VP of Sales. He comes to us from Citel. And then there’s Rick Kelley, our Senior VP Strategic Initiatives and COO who has a background in military communications. We do everything from sales to marketing to building systems. We outsource some development work, but we do a lot in-house. Our GUI is done mostly in PHP, and when we get into some of the other applications, we work in shell scripting and PERL.

In any case, our Evolution PBX packs high-end system features into a simplified package. We even have follow-me cell phone integration. Every business can now have IP telephony features in an intuitive low-maintenance PBX. IT

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


Open Source News
Nortel (News - Alert) Goes Open Source
Nortel introduced a SIP-centric unified communications solution for small and medium businesses. The new solution, Nortel Software Communication System (SCS (News - Alert)) 500, is designed to enable smaller players to leverage various technologies which were only available to large enterprises with bigger budgets in the past. Here’s the kicker: the new solution is based on open source technology.

The SCS 500 comes complete with presence/instant messaging, IP telephony, conferencing, and other advanced applications, and will be available on hardware systems through Nortel’s collaborations with IBM and Dell (News - Alert)
Fonality (News - Alert) Unveils Version 4.0
Fonality announced a new point release of their PBXtra phone system. Version 4.0 of PBXtra offers a series of new features including advances in mobility. The new system features FindMe with Boomerang Mobile Integration, a unique feature that uses presence detection to find users on their mobile devices, allowing them to answer the call or forward it to another extension.

The built-in presence detection enables the system to keep track of an employee’s keyboard and mouse activity and can then route calls to their cell phone based on inactivity on their computer.
Westcon Adds Ingate to Enterprise Solutions Portfolio
Ingate Systems (News - Alert) announced that it has been selected by Westcon, a leading specialty distributor of advanced network technology solutions, to add its award-winning Ingate Firewall, Ingate SIParator, and broad range of security solutions for SIP to the Westcon portfolio of enterprise offerings, including Westcon’s new Open Source ecosystem of products.

Ingate Systems announced that it has been selected by Westcon, a leading specialty distributor of advanced network technology solutions, to add its award-winning Ingate Firewall, Ingate SIParator, and broad range of security solutions for SIP to the Westcon portfolio of enterprise offerings, including Westcon’s new Open Source ecosystem of products.
New Version of Switchvox IP PBX From Digium (News - Alert)
Digium, Inc., the Asterisk Company, released Switchvox SMB 3.5 and the AA60 Switchvox Appliance. The new version introduces features and enhancements geared towards larger companies, and the AA60 Switchvox (News - Alert) Appliance was designed specifically with the needs of small business in mind.

New features in version 3.5 of the IP PBX software make it easier for administrators or resellers to set up larger systems more quickly than ever before. Bundling Switchvox SMB 3.5 on Digium’s AA60 Switchvox Appliance makes for an even more reliable communications solution and saves valuable space in a small office environment.
Pingtel (News - Alert) Announces Latest SIPxchange
Pingtel announced version 3.10 of its SIPxchange ECS open source VoIP solution. This new version adds more than 170 new high-value features. Key new and enhanced usability enhancements include:

  • An extended user control portal — Promotes individual user self-management by putting the individual user in control of key features such as time-based find-me/follow-me, voicemail management, and personal phone book, speed dial and preference management;
  • New auto-attendant features — Includes a user configurable personal auto-attendant for every user on the system;
  • Enhanced dial plan features — Consists of time-based dialing rules with different admin defined schedules;
  • Extended presence services — Includes visual state indication and phone display;
  • New group paging services — Incorporates an integrated group paging server and support for regular SIP phones and in-ceiling devices.
Intuitive Voice Passes 3,500 Deployments
Intuitive Voice Technology (News - Alert) has announced that it has successfully deployed more than 3,500 deployments of its Evolution PBX software platform. The Evolution PBX product line for small and medium-sized businesses includes a hardened subset of the popular open source Asterisk code base.

With Evolution PBX and the Java-based iView Operator Console, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals are empowered with a communications system that functions similar to the million-dollar PBX systems FORTUNE 500 companies use, at a fraction of the cost of many proprietary solutions.
Sangoma Announces Lifetime Warranty on Telephony Cards
Sangoma Technologies (News - Alert) has announced a lifetime warranty on their Advanced Flexible Telecommunications (AFT) product line. The program includes a no questions asked 30-day money back guarantee, Sangoma’s renowned free technical support, and free replacement in the unlikely event of a defect.

“We want our customers to understand that our products have a level of quality that others simply cannot duplicate,” said Doug Vilim (News - Alert), VP of Sales at Sangoma.
Trolltech (News - Alert)’s Qt 4.4 Available for Test and Feedback
Trolltech has delivered a Release Candidate of Qt 4.4 to its commercial customers and open source users for testing and feedback. Qt 4.4 is the upcoming release of Trolltech’s leading cross-platform software development framework. The final release of Qt 4.4 is currently scheduled for mid Q2 2008. The Release Candidate presents all new features for testing and feedback. Preview packages are now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop operating systems, as well as for Qt Embedded platforms: Embedded Linux and Windows CE. To learn more and to download the preview packages, please visit the company’s Web site.


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