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October 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 10
Open Source

Talking with Eran Gal, CEO of Xorcom

By: Paula Bernier (News - Alert)

On the eve of AstriCon 2009, an event TMC (News - Alert) will stage Oct. 13-15 in Glendale, Ariz., Internet Telephony’s Executive Editor Paula Bernier spoke with Xorcom CEO Eran Gal, one of the early converts to the Asterisk open source movement.

PB: For those not familiar with Xorcom (News - Alert), what should we know about the company?

EG: Xorcom was established in 2004, when we identified the potential of the open source telephony trend. We were especially intrigued by the Asterisk Open Source PBX (News - Alert), which back then was still quite immature, but the direction was clear. With the understanding that this approach was destined to change the market completely, we set out to become a leading vendor in open source telephony market.

We are firm believers in the open source model, and have, from day one, released our drivers under GPL (open source) license. We continue to invest a lot of resources to improve Asterisk (News - Alert) for the benefit of our customers and that of the entire community. In early 2006 our drivers were officially accepted into the Asterisk project and since then our XPP technology is an integral part of Asterisk. This technology includes support for USB connectivity to telephony interfaces, seamless fax and modem support, support for central management of hybrid systems, including systems that accommodate hundreds of analog ports, and more.

PB: Xorcom recently unveiled a solution it developed in concert with OrecX. Tell me about it.

EG: While all Xorcom units support the basic recording functionality supplied with Asterisk, OrecX systems provide a more professional, manageable solution which better serves “heavy duty” recording requirements. Among the features OrecX offers are call recording and playback – in the open source version – as well as live monitoring, on-demand recording, selective recording, and multi-site call recording, among others (in the commercial version). The fact that the recording is handled by a separate server reduces load from the PBX and allows higher number of concurrent calls to be recorded.

We decided to develop an add-on to Asterisk, destined to become an integral part of the Asterisk project, which allows DAHDI-based devices to interoperate with OrecX systems. As a result, calls can be recorded from both hardware (PSTN) and software (IP) sources.

PB: What are your plans for AstriCon in terms of new product announcements?

EG: Besides the OrecX interoperability we just described, we are going to display the Astribank channel bank for Asterisk – a unique USB-connected telephony interface that just won the Best of Show award in the Open Source category at ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2009. Astribank extends Asterisk capabilities, allowing it to create truly hybrid systems while utilizing most of the enterprise’s existing infrastructure and lowering implementation and maintenance costs.

Another unique solution we will be presenting is the TwinStar™ – a complete redundancy solution for Asterisk-based PBX. This solution is comprised of two identical Xorcom IP PBXs that continually replicate each other in an intelligent fashion, so that if anything happens to the master PBX, the backup PBX takes over all communication – traditional as well as VoIP – and the business can continue functioning normally, without any human intervention.

We are also going to present a new Xorcom Rapid Live-USB Asterisk disk-on-key. This amazing gadget allows you to run an Asterisk system directly from a bootable USB drive without having to install anything on your server. You can run it from laptops, embedded devices, etc. All you need is a USB port. Besides being a fun gadget, the Xorcom Rapid Live-USB is a great maintenance and troubleshooting tool for Asterisk integrators, allowing them to clearly define whether an issue they run into is software- or hardware-related. We are planning on giving this item away to booth visitors that fit certain criteria; they may have to prove they’re “worthy” by solving some riddles…;-)

PB: How has the economy impacted the open source space?

EG: Generally speaking, I think the recession had a positive effect on the acceptance of open source, specifically in the telecommunications world. I believe that the reason for it is two-fold:

First, customers today are much more sensitive about ROI, which automatically means they are less drawn to brand names. This environment is very good for high-quality open source products sales that, in the majority of cases, provide lower cost solutions than their legacy counterparts. Furthermore, while non-open source solutions may require a fork-lift approach, open source solutions are more likely to integrate with existing solutions, systems and infrastructure, further reducing implementation costs.

Second, … the immediate and almost blind trust large corporations used to receive from prospective customers is now significantly reduced. While customers still look for security and stability from their technology providers, open source provides a different model for such security and stability. Open source security does not rely solely on the financial strength of the technology provider, but also on an entire community that built the solution, supports it, and may provide, if there will be such need, alternative providers that may support the solution in case the integrator or vendor runs into difficulties.

From Xorcom's specific point of view, I can certainly say that we did see slower growth than expected at the end of last year and beginning of this one, mainly due to psychological effects as customers delayed their decisions until the economic situation in their territory became clear. However, things were back on track after only a few months. At this point, we have already exceeded last year's sales, so without a doubt this is going to be the best year ever for Xorcom. IT

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