The economy has been at the forefront of nearly every industry conversation I’ve had in the past few months. But at all the tradeshows and telecom gatherings I’ve attended this year, one message rings true across all of them: it’s not as bad in telecom as it is in other industries. There can be many reasons for this. I’ve heard some people say that the telecom industry, still smarting from the last meltdown in 2001–2002, had already built efficiencies into their operations. I’ve also heard that in a down economy, consumers and businesses are still willing to invest in technologies that can save them money, and certainly our industry is full of innovative people and companies that design just such technologies. And, let’s face it, with the cost of broadband dropping and as the penchant for consuming ever more bandwidth continues to grow, we all toil in an industry that holds some promise for not getting steamrolled in this economy.
One company that seems to be doing well amid the economic chaos is Digium. The company just released their latest iteration of Switchvox (version 4.0 of their Asterisk-based enterprise PBX (News - Alert) solution) in February and according to Bill Miller, Digium’s VP of Product Management, the reaction has been overwhelmingly good. I took a few moments to ask Bill several questions, to which he was gracious enough to respond.
GG: As the economic malaise continues, what effect is it having on business in the open source telephony space? Are people investing in money saving tech? Or are they standing pat?
BM: We have seen a tremendous increase in calls for information about open source based solutions and we have seen an increase in interest in building custom telephony solutions in the past few months. Our Asterisk (News - Alert) download count continues to rise as more businesses are now considering open source that may have not a few months ago. The business case for open source-based telephony solutions is compelling and users have the choice of building their own custom telephony solution or purchasing a turn-key business phone system complete with enterprise-class 24x7 support. We expect this to interest to continue. In fact, we expect that when the economy recovers from the recession more and more businesses will be more budget conscious and consider open source based solutions as a viable option. This will contribute to previously predicted growth in both VoIP and open source.
GG: How has the market reacted to the latest version of Switchvox (4.0)?
BM: Switchvox 4.0 has received excellent accolades from press, analysts, channels and users. We are excited about the remainder of 2009 and going forward with this award-winning product family. The features and capabilities of Switchvox SMB 4.0 expand markets both domestically and internationally and Digium has added new distributors that are focusing on Switchvox in their respective regions.
GG: You’re speaking at an upcoming enterprise VoIP event. What topics will you be addressing?
BM: My speaking engagement is in the presentation theater of our premier gateway partner AudioCodes. My topic, “Open Source in an Economic Downturn,” will be an introduction to why businesses should consider open source based telephony solutions as a remedy to their budget constraints and business phone system needs.
GG: My experience has been that Digium often breaks news at trade shows — any sneak peeks ahead of the event?
BM: Come on Greg, you know we introduced Switchvox SMB 4.0 “Web-Aware (News - Alert)” release at ITEXPO/Digium Asterisk World and that was a huge announcement including many Unified Communications (News - Alert) features including fax, video and chat integration; advanced IVR tools, new Switchboard panel additions, new efficiency tools for administrators, voice mail and call queue enhancements, a new windows desktop client, an XML-based API, phone provisioning for SNOM phones, BRI support, scheduled reports and more! We will be showing this different audience this new product. We may have a little something for the general Asterisk crowd, many of whom have built open source-based Asterisk solutions and are looking for something new from Digium.
Greg Galitzine is editorial director for TMC’s (News - Alert) IP Communications suite of products, including TMCnet.com. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Greg Galitzine