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November 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 11
Open Source

Positron Telecom Expands Horizons with Turnkey Solutions

By: Paula Bernier (News - Alert)

Positron Telecommunication Systems Inc. got its start providing PCI (News - Alert) cards and gateways that others can use to create complete products. The company still does that, but now it’s expanding its portfolio to include turnkey solutions.

But not just any turnkey solutions.

The company’s new initiative, launched last month at AstriCon, allows customers to choose from a variety of software-based applications and related hardware options, and Positron Telecommunication Systems will deliver those solutions in a made-to-order fashion.

The new solutions address call center, conference bridge, PBX (News - Alert), and PBX extender applications, says Richard McGravie, president of Positron Telecommunication Systems. Customers can elect to have these applications delivered via card or appliance form factors, and can specify the number of ports and other hardware features they require, he adds. So it’ll be something of a customized solution every time.

“All the software solutions that we do work on all the hardware solutions that we do,” says McGravie, explaining how the company is leveraging its existing platforms with this new effort.

When Positron Telecommunication Systems was established in January 2008 it set out to improve upon the existing telephony designs of such companies as Dialogic, Digium and Sangoma Technologies (News - Alert), says McGravie. But along the way, he says, management decided instead to move in a different direction.

“That was really making a PCI card that was both a media gateway and an Asterisk (News - Alert) blade, for lack of a better term,” he says of the initial plan. “But what we figured out part way through the thing is that limited us into a smaller vertical market.

“So what we decided to do was, because the power of Asterisk is on the card, we decided we were going to make solutions,” McGravie says.

The Asterisk/open source telephony board market is a $30- to $40-million opportunity, he explains, but the PBX market is in the billions. While that entire space is not addressable for Positron Telecommunication Systems, it does bring the opportunity into the hundreds of millions of dollars for the company, he says.

Applications with 100 users or less are the sweet spot for Positron Telecommunication Systems, which uses a distribution model to bring its products to market. McGravie adds that call center solutions are typically custom solutions, but with the company’s new turnkey initiative selling call center applications is now attainable for resellers. That includes call center applications both in the traditional sense as well as for uses that aren’t technically call centers but require a lot of the same functionality, he says.

McGravie says resellers of the company’s new turnkey solutions have plenty of ammunition they can use to differentiate these products from those of competitors.

Because each application can be provided on an array of hardware platforms, he says, resellers can respond to the needs of customers with virtually any price point. For the conference bridge application, he says, they can emphasize that bringing this capability can save business customers big in terms of telephony costs.

“We do a couple things that absolutely nobody else does in the marketplace,” McGravie continues. “Nobody else has a PBX on a PCI card. Why is that important? If you look at the traditional Asterisk market, the problem with Asterisk is that you have to take a PC, you have to install Linux on it. You have to install Asterisk on it. And if you want telephony on it, you have to install a telephony board. And, typically, in all of those processes something goes wrong.

“We take the Linux, the Asterisk, and the telephony board and we combine it into a single solution. That’s already done for you,” he says, adding that decreases time to market for the reseller and its customer.

He adds that one of the limitations of Asterisk is it only works well on Linux, but that users that want to take a do-it-yourself approach can use a PCI card with the operating system of their choice.

Also, he says, traditional cards require the installation of a driver for the operating system. “We actually install as an Ethernet card,” he explains. “So you install it, you get an IP address and off you go, which is again very unique in the marketplace.”

Positron Telecommunication Systems’ PBX-on-a-card architecture also addresses cloud-based applications in an unrivaled manner, says McGravie. He says VMware typically requires a virtual server and the installation of a virtual Ethernet adapter. That communicates with the host PC’s Ethernet adapter, which then hits switch and then on to a gateway. But voice traffic is sensitive to latency and delay, McGravie notes, so by the time the traffic goes through all those processes it can be adversely affected.

“Because our card has an internal Ethernet adapter we actually terminate the RGP and the traffic inside the box,” he says. “So we have the least amount of hops.”

“We’re the only vendor in this space that can do this,” he adds.

Beyond just the solutions themselves, however, McGravie emphasizes a point of differentiation for Positron Telecommunication Systems is the fact that it will offer customer support no matter what size the customer.

“I have a model where I’ll give anybody their 30 minutes in court,” he says. “If you have a problem, we’ll help you fix it.” IT

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