As businesses increasingly migrate to IP-based communications systems, one of the key benefits they are seeking is cost savings, which has been a hallmark of VoIP systems from their infancy. Open source solutions, driven by the increasingly popular Asterisk platform, add an additional level of savings on capital expenditures.
However, as the economy stabilizes, the focus will likely shift back to the features and flexibility of IP, which again, are a key benefit to Asterisk-based solutions, which allow developers and users alike to easily adapt products to solve unique business challenges.
These benefits have always been promoted by Digium (News
), the force behind the Asterisk brand
, and by its long-time partners and developers, but lately, the trend has been for more large enterprises and government agencies, including many in the traditionally conservative financial sector, to adopt the Asterisk
platform to drive their communications, a sign of its maturity, security, and reliability – not to mention the cost savings and flexibility.
“Only two or three years ago, the number of large enterprises considering Asterisk-based systems as a viable solution was quite small. This is not the case today,” notes Eran Gal, CEO and co-founder of Xorcom (News
), which has been winning bids against several of the leading proprietary IP PBX
Read Gal’s full interview with TMC’s group editorial director Erik Linask (News
EL: Why have you chosen to leverage the Asterisk platform in your product(s)?
EG: Asterisk is the fastest-growing telephony platform
. It complements our vision of business telephony, which emphasizes the added value of a hybrid (PSTN + VoIP) solution with built-in interoperability. This approach is infinitely more constructive than that of legacy platforms, which are attempting simply to “keep their heads above water.” We chose Asterisk with the confidence that it would change the PBX market, and we wanted to be there when it happened.
EL: What advantages does an Asterisk-based product offer for your customers?
EG: The main advantage is flexibility, which translates to lower implementation costs (through optimization of the existing infrastructure), interoperability with third-party software, and systems that are scalable and upgradeable.
EL: What are the key differentiators of your product over others on the market?
EG: First and foremost, our products are characterized by their strong support for hybrid systems. We offer full redundancy systems, centrally managed support for hundreds of analog ports, remote support, quick system backup and restore functionality, and more. Our products feature a true open and dedicated Asterisk platform; this is the reason we have several partners that use Xorcom hardware as a platform for their software-based applications.
EL: Who is your target customer and how are you adapting your approach to selling to them under current economic conditions?
EG: Our end users come from a wide range of vertical markets
including: hospitality, transportation, defense, medical, manufacturing, data hosting, high tech, government, and many more. Our systems are basically aimed at 10-1,000 users per site. Our approach to sales is simple: offer the customer a better value for an attractive price, not necessarily by being the lowest priced solution in the market (we are not) but by allowing the flexibility to make the most out of the customer’s existing infrastructure. We allow the customer’s needs to dictate the pace of the transition to an IP PBX
by enabling a gradual system evolution, rather than a radical (and expensive) revolution. As a result, the customer can lower both the initial investment as well as the total investment and still receive a high quality IP PBX.
EL: How does working with Digium help increase the value and awareness of your product?
EG: We benefit from the Asterisk reputation and, at the same time, contribute to it by working in collaboration with Digium developers. So, we are continually striving to improve Asterisk and fortify its reputation, which directly benefits the market perception of our products.
EL: What is the state of the Asterisk market, from your perspective?
EG: We see a clear growth trend as Asterisk continues to increase its market share. Asterisk is past both the initial hype and slowdown stages. It is now in the steady growth stage within a growing market. It is definitely a great place to be!
We see examples of this every day. Only two or three years ago, the number of large enterprises considering Asterisk-based systems as a viable solution was quite small. This is not the case today. Xorcom’s integrators have built solutions for large international corporations, and are winning bids against IP PBX market leaders such as Avaya and Cisco (News
). This is a very good sign for Asterisk. Today, we see interest across all vertical markets, including banks and other typically conservative industries.
EL: This year marks the 10th birthday of Asterisk. What has driven its growth over a decade?
EG: Like with all technologies, different things drove it at different stages of its growth. It started with a crazy idea in the head of Mark Spencer (News
). From there it grew into the “darling” of a small, but enthusiastic developer community. It went on to represent a big promise to change the PBX market very quickly, and today we are witnessing the early stages of maturity, where Asterisk growth is driven by concrete market needs. Among these the most important is the ability to provide a lower cost solution, and second to that the flexibility of an open system. In the future, I believe these two drivers may switch places, where flexibility and interoperability will become the main driver.
EL: Why are you participating in AstriCon 2009?
EG: AstriCon is the only niche event for Asterisk. It is highly focused and it is a great place to meet the community and hear what's new.
EL: Why should attendees make sure they visit you at your booth?
EG: We are going to present our unique, award-winning TwinStar solution for a full-redundancy system. The TwinStar system comprises two Xorcom IP PBX units that back up each other – including all the traditional telephony. The traditional telephony connectivity redundancy feature is also available to third-party Asterisk-based systems.
In addition, we are going to hand out (for qualified visitors only) a PBX-on-key. This is a complete Asterisk system that runs straight off a USB disk-on-key, without impacting the computer’s hard drive. We will also present the recently announced GPL call-recording solution we developed jointly with OrecX.
Follow all the news from AstriCon 2009, taking place October 13-15 in Glendale, Ariz., on TMCnet. AstriCon’s mission is to expand awareness and knowledge of Asterisk, the world's leading open source PBX, telephony engine, and telephony applications toolkit, over the course of a three-day conference and exhibition. AstriCon includes a wealth of information for every Asterisk user, whether you are getting started or have already discovered the power of Asterisk.
Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask