The PBX Squeeze and How You'll Benefit

Publisher�s Outlook

The PBX Squeeze and How You'll Benefit

By Rich Tehrani, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  September 24, 2014

The following diagram is borrowed from the substantial cranial database of TMC (News - Alert) partner in WebRTC Expo and UC University, Phil Edholm, who was a major tech driver at Nortel and Avaya (News - Alert) for decades. It was modified a bit by me.

The state of the PBX market can be summed up by this chart, showing existing vendors getting squeezed between Microsoft coming from the OS down, Cisco coming from the router out, and cloud and open source coming from the bottom up in terms of pricing.

In short, it is a tough time to be a PBX vendor. This doesn’t mean that these companies can’t adapt – many are. ShoreTel (News - Alert) is now a cloud provider, for example.

At last month’s ITEXPO, which attracted an audience from around the globe, attendees saw everything of interest in communications and technology, and one of the areas of tremendous growth that has generated lots of interest is FreePBX World from Schmooze, which was collocated with ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Las Vegas. This event had tremendous interest last year in Vegas, and we expected it to get bigger at the show held last month. (Press time for this issue was before ITEXPO in August.)

Why? As the diagram above shows, open source is putting pressure on PBX sales from below – at a time when companies have tighter budgets. Linux familiarity is only growing, and success stories using this OS are everywhere.

Moreover, a system like FreePBX has taken an open source platform based on Asterisk and turned it into a unified communications solution. It also runs across endpoints ranging from hardware-based phones to mobile and even WebRTC-based clients.

But enough about the product – you can check the website for more. The conference provided a venue where attendees could come to learn about what the FreePBX ecosystem is capable of – and can do for your company.

The event touched on some of the most important topics in the industry right now – such as high-availability phone systems, software integration in small and large companies, localization for global customers, certification, hosting (cloud) pitfalls, and more.

The speakers included Mark Spencer from Digium (News - Alert) as well as Philippe Lindheimer of Schmooze. Mark, as you know, really popularized the open source PBX movement about a decade ago. We have come so far, so fast.

Here is the bottom line. There is major disruption happening in the PBX market. This means new opportunities for customers to take advantage of things they likely didn’t have access to if their last PBX purchase was close to a decade ago or more. For example, open APIs, cloud-based access, SIP integration, WebRTC, mobile apps, HD voice, etc.

Open source may or may not be for you, but it is a smart thing to look at very seriously. It's worth mentioning that quite often the solutions you buy from traditional telecom and tech vendors are open source behind the scenes anyway. Amazing, huh? 

Edited by Maurice Nagle