Open Source

Sangoma Talks Strategy, Including Its Recent Acquisition

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Sangoma recently acquired VegaStream. INTERNET TELEPHONY used that announcement as an opportunity to connect with Jeff Dworkin, Sangoma’s director of marketing, to find out more about the deal and about the company’s open source strategy as a whole.

For those not familiar with Sangoma, what does the company sell and to whom?

Dworkin: Sangoma provides hardware and software components that enable or en­hance IP communications systems for both telecom and datacom applications. Our customers include developers, systems integrators and network administrators. Developers can integrate our Telephony Interface and Media Processing boards into their telephony applications using Wanpipe software, or by using them in conjunction with Asterisk (News - Alert) or FreeSWITCH. Integrators and administrators can use our line of Gateway Products and Appliances to add or enhance the functionality of their networks by using a GUI to configure the products for their particular implementation requirements.

What is Sangoma’s special sauce? What wins the company business and keeps customers aboard?

Dworkin: Our legacy is in high quality hardware engineering/logistics along with a very deep understanding of how our hardware integrates into the implementation environment. Ninety-five percent of our orders ship on the same day with a fraction of a percentage return rate. Of the fraction of a percentage that is returned, less than 40 percent have actual physical failures or defects. Because of this outstanding reliability, we were the first company in the industry to offer a lifetime warranty on many of our hardware products. We also strive to bring this same level of excellence to our software products. 

What does that have to do with open source?

Dworkin: Sangoma has been part of the open source telephony market since its inception. Some of the earliest work on the project that became Asterisk was done using Sangoma frame relay cards. However, the founders of Asterisk decided to move to a VoIP solution and manufacture their own cards. A few years into the Asterisk project, the founder of Sangoma, David Mandelstam (News - Alert), came to understand the potential of Asterisk, but also realized there were serious engineering and productions problems with the boards being produced for use with that project. Mr. Mandelstam quickly re-engineered a number of Sangoma products to support Asterisk.

Sangoma now holds about 40 percent of the total market for TDM interface, media and signaling boards for Asterisk. We also provide most of the TDM interface cards for FreeSWITCH, the major open source telephony competitor to Asterisk.

Sangoma recently acquired VegaStream. When and why?

Dworkin: The management team came to understand that there were certain implementations for which a board-level solution was not appropriate, but instead an appliance-based, external gateway was required. We immediately put such a product onto our roadmap. When we became aware of the opportunity to acquire the product line of VegaStream, it was a simple build vs. buy analysis that lead us to our decision. In addition to accelerating our roadmap, we also see a number of other benefits, including an office in the U.K. to better serve our EMEA customers, a good distribution network that had very little overlap with our existing network, new customers, and an excellent team of people encompassing both engineering and sales.

What is Sangoma’s go-to-market strategy, and how is it supporting its channel partners?

Dworkin: Other than our OEM customers, Sangoma’s distribution is handled solely through our network of distributors and resellers. At our partner summit last July we announced a comprehensive new partner program that includes such items as:

  • availability of market development funds;
  • volume incentive rebates designed to reward distributors that grow with us
  • a lead referral program;
  • discounted ad placement on Sangoma web properties, including all three of our TMC (News - Alert) community pages;
  • sponsorship and shared event/webinar sponsorship opportunities;
  • Lunch and Learn Program;
  • content generations for our Partners Website; and
  • Sangoma generated content and hardware discounts for end user training.

 I understand Sangoma will be releasing over a dozen new products in the next 12 months. What can you tell us about what you have in the pipeline?

Dworkin: Our roadmap is divided into three categories: products that extend or improve current product base; products that extend our reach into the market; and those that address the needs of an entire new market. For example, in the first category, we have just released a new T3-Mux. We know that we have customers in the field that use a significant number of our T1 interface boards, but who order a T3 from their provider to take advantage of the cost savings. They have to place a mux between the T3 and our boards. Until now, that mux had to come from someone other than Sangoma. Now they can use a Sangoma product for that task. They get the entire solution from a single vendor and know that our mux is guaranteed to be compatible with our boards. We also have a 16-Span T1/E1/PRI board in the pipeline. Again, this is designed specifically to help our existing customers that need more capacity per server and have been limited by the available PCIe slots in their servers. In the second category, those products that extend our reach, we have a lot of new appliance products. This included the new VegaStream products, but also an SS7 media gateway as well as a gateway that includes transcoding functions. There are products in the pipeline that address completely new markets, but we are keeping those under wraps for just a bit longer.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi