TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community




Talking with Chris Lyman, CEO, Fonality

By: Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

Fonality, pioneer of the ‘hybrid hosted’ PBX (News - Alert), is the third startup of CEO Chris Lyman. Prior to Fonality, he founded and led Virtualis, a top-ten Web Hosting company that he sold to Allegiance Telecom in late 2000, re-branded it to, and joined the Allegiance management team as Vice President of Web Hosting Services. There he led the acquisition and roll-up of additional hosting firms. Earlier, in 1994, Lyman founded a media-focused systems integration firm in Los Angeles. Lyman is a licensed SCCA-Pro driver and owns a motor sports racing team.

RG: What are the differences between trixbox CE, trixbox Pro and PBXtra?

CL: Open Source myths confuse people. Most of these “open source” companies such as Digium (News - Alert), mySQL, and so forth, aren’t really pure open source anymore. One model they often use is that they have a completely closed source commercial version of their code on top of their open source model. I admit, what these companies do is very clever. They essentially say, ‘We have an open source version of our code. If you make changes to your version and you ever want them picked up by us in our open source forum, you have to sign this piece of paper, a waiver, that gives us the rights to your changes so we can sell them in our commercial version. Failure to sign is okay, but you’ll never see your changes in the public program.’ These waivers are interesting. One essentially says, ‘Once you sign this document, we have the right to sell this piece of code of yours forever, never cut you in on the revenue, and also the company that we sell your changes to can make further enhancements, and they don’t have to give it back to you or the community.”

“It’s a kind of a Chinese wall or one-way membrane built between the companies to which they sell the software, and people contributing the code,” says Lyman. “We think this activity is very ‘anti-open source’ and we never sign such waivers. When we make changes or ‘patch’ Asterisk (News - Alert), for example, we distribute source code to our customers, and we publish the changes to the community, the truly open source GPL version of Asterisk, but not Digium’s commercial branch. We got frustrated with not having a branch of Asterisk to which we could contribute, so that’s why we acquired the Asterisk@Home IP-PBX in 2006, which we’ve now rebranded as trixbox. Asterisk@Home was originally an application stack by Andrew Gillis built on top of Asterisk, Linux and Apache, mySQL and SugarCRM (News - Alert), that was basically a free, downloadable PBX. It was and is a massively popular fork. We average about a million downloads a year. Now, trixbox CE is a pure 100 percent GPL open source customer premise PBX – no commercial license. It’s our ‘philanthropic’ enterprise.”

“Then there’s our commercial offerings, trixbox Pro and PBXtra products, which have basically the same code base,” says Lyman. “Whereas trixbox Pro is software-only, PBXtra is a whole hardware-software bundle. Moreover, trixbox Pro and PBXtra are what we call ‘hybrid hosted’, which means we can combine the benefits of a hardware PBX with the affordability and ease of use of a hosted offering. We’re a VoIP-enabler for business. We partner with sellers of minutes, so they can ‘smarten up’ their dumb pipes. The switching occurs on the customer premise, and our data center does several things: first, it acts as a lighthouse for remote phones, so when users take a hardphone or softphone outside of the firewall, our data center acts as a registration point. The big problem with premise PBXs is that once you take your phone outside the firewall, it becomes hard for it to act as a remote extension. You need VPNs, open ports and what-not and that makes teleworking an expensive proposition. We discovered that smaller businesses just don’t have IT staff, so telling a staff member to take their phone home is not an affordable concept. Our data center can keep track of this, because it has a public IP address. Even if one or both sides of the premise or the remote worker have a private IP address, our data center acts as a sort of ‘man-in-the-middle’ or lighthouse, if you will.”

“Secondly, our data center acts like a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) model, where the moves, adds and changes happen at the data center and are pushed down to the premise. For example, if a security flaw in the code is detected, we can remotely patch thousands of installations in one evening, since we have constant VPN connections to every ‘box’. We’ve eliminated much of the truck rolling that would occur otherwise. 96 percent of our PBXtra customers do their own installation, even for 100-seat call centers. Those are the advantages of having a data center and a hybrid hosted model.” IT


Open Source News
Active Voice Chooses LumenVox (News - Alert) Speech Recognition for SPEAK Solution
Active Voice, LLC, and LumenVox today announced the availability of Active Voice SPEAK, an advanced speech-enabled auto attendant designed specifically for the small and mid-sized business environment (SMBs) and the mobile workforce. The engineering framework for SPEAK enables an out-of-the-box turnkey solution that is considerably more affordable, while being easy to implement, deploy and use requirements for SMBs. SPEAK uses the LumenVox Speech Engine to power the robust and accurate speech-enabled functionality. In addition, the Digium hardware enables the high performance, yet affordable connectivity.
SugarCRM Ramps Up with Enterprise Reporting and Wireless Features
SugarCRM, announced the beta release of reporting and wireless capabilities for SugarCRM. In addition to end-user features, this release provides capabilities for importing data into SugarCRM, managing users, and building and deploying custom objects and modules. SugarCRM introduces functionality for tracking how workers are using the system and how SugarCRM is performing. These measurements provide CRM administrators and managers better visibility into user adoption and system performance.
New On-Demand Platform as a Service to Enable Java and Ajax Over the Cloud
Morph Labs and Webtide have announced the launch of a new platform version to enable developers to deploy, deliver and manage Java applications without the time and expense of setting up and managing a web delivery environment. The Morph Application Platform for Java, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that virtualizes the application environment and leverages cloud computing resources such as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is now in limited developer preview.
Bluesocket Announces Availability of BlueSecure 802.11n Access Point (News - Alert)
Bluesocket, Inc., the leader in trusted wireless access and enterprise mobility, has announced availability of its 802.11n BlueSecure Access Point 1800 (BSAP-1800) based on draft 2.0 of the 802.11n standard. The BSAP-1800 complements Bluesocket’s existing 802.11n-ready BlueSecure Controller family and Edge-to-Edge direct forwarding architecture and has achieved 802.11n draft 2.0 WiFi Alliance (News - Alert) certification, ensuring interoperability with standards-based WLAN solutions.
Hook Mobile Intros Open Mobile API for Social Media Delivery
Hook Mobile is now offering its MobileHook API for Web 2.0 application developers to push multimedia content — including photos, video, audio, and slideshows — from social networking applications to mobile phones. This API provides open access into Hook Mobile’s MAX 2.0 platform that provides Multimedia Messaging (MMS) delivery into wireless carrier networks, with the potential to reach nearly 200 million phones in the U.S. and Canada. Hook provides access to the MAX 2.0 platform for seamless mobile delivery across an endless variety of device types, media formats, diverse carrier network connections and user handset capabilities.


» Internet Telephony Magazine Table of Contents

Today @ TMC
Upcoming Events
ITEXPO West 2012
October 2- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
The World's Premier Managed Services and Cloud Computing Event
Click for Dates and Locations
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
Cloud Communications Summit
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas