Open source has gained much recognition over the last few years and with that, Asterisk has also enjoyed mounting success. In just the last year, Eran Gal, CEO and co-founder of Xorcom (News - Alert), believes that the evolution of the Asterisk market has progressed at a very fast pace. Gal recently participated in a TMCnet interview in anticipation of the upcoming AstriCon event. When asked what influence open source has had on overall communications, Gal noted that it allows relatively small companies to compete in a field that used to require much more capital.
While open source used to be primarily an SMB solution, Gal noted that open source telephony has already been installed in some very large corporations, and greater acceleration is expected. When asked about the key driver of open source, Gal points to vendor freedom, increasing flexibility and price. As for barriers to continued growth of Asterisk, Gal pointed to the building of partner networks.
Gal does believe the success of Google’s (News - Alert) Android mobile platform has helped to increase awareness and interest in open source, and believes Asterisk growth capitalizing on the growth of mobile communications is a formula we have yet to crack. At this year’s AstriCon, Gal hopes to see new and creative things being done with Asterisk (News - Alert). At Gal’s booth, attendees will see the first complete Asterisk solution for hotels. The complete conversion follows:
TMC: How has the Asterisk market changed over the past year?
EG: The evolution in the Asterisk market has progressed at a very fast pace. Asterisk has penetrated all fields of telecommunication technologies in a classic "disrupting technology" model, starting from the bottom (early adopters and techies) to the telecommunications main stream. Nortel's collapse accelerated this process and today Asterisk is, in my view, one step from truly massive main stream deployments. At Xorcom we have been working with Asterisk for the last six years and have seen how it developed. Today we see a lot of main stream deployments in virtually all verticals: banking, hospitality (which we expect to increase significantly due to a new PMS interface we have recently started offering), government, healthcare, trade, manufacturing and more. Currently, we see serious interest from service providers and from the leading distributors, which is what makes me confident that we at Xorcom, as part of the Asterisk world, are one step before mass mainstream deployments.
TMC: What influence has open source had on the overall communications space over the past 12 months from a product and/or competitive perspective?
EG: Open source allows relatively small companies to compete in a field that used to require much more initial capital. It also lowers the prices of sophisticated IP telephony systems for the end user, which expands the market and creates more niches. The outcome is a more diversified market with more niche players and an ongoing decrease in the dominance of the telecom "giants". This also means there is more competition, on the one hand, and more standardization on the other. We may not feel the second part yet, but it will come, just like it is starting to happen in the office programs where Microsoft started offering support for Open Office formats. This is good news for the customers who will get better products and will not be locked into a single vendor. From the vendors’ point of view it requires creativity in creating value for the entire ecosystem.
TMC: Is open source still primarily an SMB phenomenon or has it seen increased acceptance in the large enterprise space?
EG: Open source telephony has already been installed in some very large organizations. However, the rate at which big corporate and government organizations are increasingly interested is rising as more and more reference sites become available. This causes an acceleration effect in the rate of new deployments within large organizations.
TMC: What has been the key driver of open source adoption?
EG: The reasons organizations, especially the larger ones, are interested in open source include:
--Freedom from being locked into a specific vendor for ten years or so.
--Increasing flexibility as interoperability between the different business systems (ERP, CRM, telephony) grows.
--Price – in most cases an open source solution is more cost-effective.
TMC: What barriers remain to the continued growth of Asterisk and open source?
EG: I believe the main challenge is still building the partner networks. None of the companies that offer Asterisk today have the marketing power of Cisco (News - Alert), Avaya, or, at the time, Nortel.
In addition, unlike when purchasing a brand name, with an Asterisk system there is no system integrator or VAR certification process; basically anyone can offer an Asterisk-based system. This has created, in cases where the VAR was not sufficiently professional, a bad reputation for the technology. The way we deal with this challenge is that Xorcom offers Asterisk-based systems as a product, on tested integrated hardware, via a competent partner network. This way the customer gets the best of both worlds: all the advantages of open source plus the confidence of buying from a good source and knowing there is vendor support behind the products.
TMC: Has the success of Google’s android mobile platform helped Increase awareness and interest in open source?
EG: Yes. This is another very interesting direction we have been seeing this year. After servers, telephony and desktop software we now also see the mobile devices world choosing open source on a large scale. The main reason that Android was so quickly accepted is strongly linked to open source and to the open source approach that Google takes on the commercial side as well. I believe Android is just in the very beginning of its potential. We have already seen different vendors take it in many directions. With the Intel (News - Alert)-Nokia cooperation on the Meego open source operating system we may see an interesting situation wherein most of the operating systems will be open source.
TMC: How can the Asterisk community capitalize on the growth of mobile communications?
EG: That is a good question and many good minds are working on cracking the formula. I am sure we will see some work in this direction next year.
TMC: What are you hoping to see at AstriCon 2010?
EG: I would like to see what new and creative things have been done with Asterisk, meet the community and learn about the achievements of other players in this field.
TMC: Why is your booth a must-visit for attendees?
EG: We will demonstrate the first complete Asterisk solution for hotels, certified by Micros-Fidelio, the leading vendor in Property Management System (PMS) software for hotels. This award-winning system is also certified as interoperable with several other PMS vendors and provides a real opportunity for Asterisk VARs in the hospitality market.
We will also be presenting our Asterisk PBX product line, including award-winning TwinStar failover system, Asterisk USB telephony interfaces, and more.Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny