openLine networks, a manufacturer of u-PBX, the ideal Asterisk (News - Alert) IP PBX appliance for small and mid-sized business communications environments, will be showcasing its solutions at the INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO, held February 2nd- 4th, 2009, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida.
The company partners with other industry hardware manufacturers to create complete communications packages that work right out of the box.
Technology Marketing Corporation President, Rich Tehrani (News - Alert), took some time to ask Dan Beckmann, vice president of openLine Networks, some questions regarding the company’s outlook for 2009 and his take on the current economy.
RT: Are you generally optimistic, pessimistic or realistic?
DB: I'm an optimistic pessimist who's a realist. My role at openLine networks is to help create real world business solutions by leveraging the capabilities of our technical staff. Engineers are fantastic pessimists, and I'm consistently "selling the dream" to make us the best that we can be in a REALISTIC world.
RT: How many frequent flyer miles have you amassed?
DB: 42. Which also happens to be the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
RT: How surprised are you at the global financial situation?
DB: Very. Who woulda thunk the entire world had ALL its money in American houses?
RT: How is your company changing the way it does business as a result?
DB: We're taking advantage of the desire to achieve cost savings by implementing new technologies. No surprise there, but we're willing to take on the roll of "educator" in order to push VoIP technologies ahead in the mainstream business service industry.
RT: How have customers reacted to the slowing global markets?
DB: Our enterprise customers are scaling back on new expenditures, and looking for places to save money. Our partner/resellers are more willing to look at cost-reducing technologies, and ways to provide their own services on our technology, rather than buying off-the-shelf closed solutions.
RT: Do you see this time as an opportunity or a rough spot to get through quickly?
DB: Realistically, we just have to get through this. No one wants to take risks right now, which is kind of a disease. When people aren't so close to being fired, they generally give a more listening ear to a sales pitch that may or may not make them look good.
RT: What will companies need to do to survive this downturn?
DB: The best companies just do what they do and do it well. If a business model was legit in good times, that shouldn't change in bad times. The marketing message may change slightly, but the mission can never change.
RT: How do your company’s’ products help customers in a slow market?
DB: Our products help small businesses create effective communications environments. By using only open source software, our partners and resellers can create their own solutions that bring value to their customers, making them more competitive. VoIP technologies by their nature should reduce costs and increase efficiency.
RT: What do you feel is the strongest segment of the communications space? Technology?
DB: Open Source systems. We need the ability to scale from the smallest one-man operation to the biggest enterprise environment without being hindered by licensing and legal disputes.creating premier business communications environments.
RT: Which would you rather be president of and why? Google (News - Alert), Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco, the United States.
DB: Microsoft (News - Alert), so I can devote all its efforts to breeding badgers, and quit wasting everyone else's time.
RT: What does President Bush need to accomplish before he leaves office?
DB: Secure himself a good spot in Microsoft's badger breeding division, as I get the feeling his book's just not gonna sell that well.
RT: What does an Obama administration need to do to help communications and technology become more pervasive?
DB: Find a nice comfortable couch and take a good long nap. If they raid the profits of successful tech companies the way he promised to do to the oil companies, we're screwed. Stay out of our way. Government has never championed a technology the way the free market has, with the possible exception of Al Gore inventing the Internet. Now that was something.
RT: Will this slowdown present an opportunity to reinvest in your company/market? If so, where will you invest?
DB: Hopefully we'll see more applicants with PhD's; Poor Hungry and Driven. With big
companies scaling back, we hope to be more attractive to new entrants in the technology
RT: Which country will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
DB: Most likely, still the U.S. We're way behind on communications technologies. East European countries like Slovakia continue to look better as they develop modern infrastructure, and a solid workforce that's willing to work for cheap!
RT: What device(s) do you use and wish you used?
DB: You know, computers, phones, all that. Of particular importance are those 6 inch outlet extenders that let you plug a buncha transformers into a single power strip. Just couldn't see living life without those. I wish we used Internet routers that incorporate Quantum mechanics thereby transmitting data faster than light. But they're just so "not invented yet" that I'm not sure when we'll get around to implementing them.
RT: If Nokia, RIM, Google and Apple devices are stranded together on an island, who survives and why?
DB: Tough one; Nokia just wouldn't feel right about not sitting on trendy Scandinavian furniture, Crackberry wouldn't make it thru the withdrawal symptoms, Google would insist on ruling the known world through benevolence and over-inflated stock prices, eventually triggering a deadly uprising, and after everyone else is gone, Apple won't be able to prove to anyone how hip it is, so would likely just blip out of existence. So Apple I guess... go figure.
RT: I understand you are exhibiting at ITEXPO (News - Alert) which takes place Feb 2-4 2009 in Miami. Whatwill you be showing there?
DB: Our embedded Asterisk PBX that's the best full Linux-Asterisk appliance on the market, but more importantly, BOB - our Video Phone robot that made lasting impressions at Astricon last fall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4JPZUDAVY.
RT: What sorts of companies/people should come to your exhibit?
DB: Well, telephony experts, service providers, enterprise customers, trekkies, you name it. But again, anyone who wants to see a really cool robot (all inclusive).
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions – and how do they justify the expense to management?
DB: We're the smallest and cheapest full Asterisk, full Linux embedded appliance on the market. Turnkey management systems make it easy to deploy for any service provider or partner, and ROOT access allows experts to deploy custom solutions on a solid-state FANLESS platform.
RT: I am a purchasing decision-maker, why do I need to speak with you before I buy?
DB: Because you might be running the risk of not buying the coolest small business telephony box out there. Don't scoff, it's happened before.
RT: What is your favorite part of your job?
DB: Talking to people about their businesses and their goals and dreams. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and love to hear stories from the trenches of people building actual value in their companies and customers.
RT: What do you look forward to in the future and why?
DB: Continuing to grow our business through opportunities like the IT Expo tradeshow. We work hard to create the best open source solutions for small business environments, and every day presents new challenges and opportunities. Plus we keep improving our robot, BOB, which is just all around good for everyone.
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.
Edited by Michelle Robart