This morning, I can reveal that Digium, the company that is the creator and primary developer of open source telephony platform Asterisk has purchased business phone systems solutions developer Switchvox.
Yesterday, I spoke with Bill Miller, vice-president of product management for Digium. While not focusing on the price of this acquisition, he explained to me why this deal was done and what it means for SMB and enterprise VoIP users.
Basically, Bill told me, Digium felt the need to offer a high-quality, easily configurable Graphical User Interface for its successful Asterisk Appliance. Such a capability would enable Digium to expand their channels, and be able to compete against other open source IP telephony solutions already to market with their own branded solutions. Fonality comes to mind- a notion that Bill confirmed.
Bill then mentioned estimates that some 100 such GUIs currently are out there. Switchvox was identified as the most revolutionary, for its ability to integrate Unified Communications functionalities, as well as its ability to let end users use or even create mash-ups such as, say, tying caller ID to Google Maps.
"This is a fragmented market, but today, their platform is by far the best, the easiest, and most powerful," Bill said. "One of their major assets is customer control."
Other competing GUI platforms, where the configurability is more data-center other than end-user based, don't offer end users the degree of control Switchvox says, Miller pointed out to me. One key goal in that regard is to promote an atmosphere of transparency to users- a transparency that the fact they are on an Asterisk platform is not readily obvious.
Bill then outlined the notion to me that in terms of competing against integrated enterprise VoIP solutions from Microsoft, Cisco and others, Digium-Switchvox offerings would be that much more impressive a cost model. Still, he admitted that to some extent, it would be difficult to make substantial inroads into enterprises where those brands are entrenched.
As to specifics, Bill mentioned that a detailed Digium-Switchvox product strategy would be introduced at Digium Asterisk World, a component of the Von show that takes place in Boston at the end of October. More announcements encompassing Digium and its offerings are likely as soon as next week.