• United States
by Zenas Hutcheson, St. Paul Venture Capital

Is open source IP telephony ready for prime time? Yes

Jun 07, 20043 mins
LinuxNetworkingOpen Source

Now is the time to begin implementing open source IP telephony. Here’s why.

Now is the time to begin implementing open source IP telephony. Here’s why:

•  Open source business models are changing market dynamics. Open source, coupled with subscription-based software licensing, is now a widely accepted business model with significant momentum. Linux  and Red Hat are the best examples of the successful pairing of open source technology (Linux) with a subscription-based software license (Red Hat). Red Hat says eight of the top 10 global investment banks are customers. Goldman Sachs’ recent IT spending survey reports that Red Hat ranks first among software companies gaining share of IT dollars. Linux is having its greatest effect in the data center, where mission-critical functions are run on higher-end servers and the majority of enterprise IT dollars are spent.

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Debate the issue with Hutcheson and Kerravala.

•  Strong end-user benefits are driving the adoption of open source technology and subscription-based business models. The benefits of open source subscription-based business models include improved product quality, enhanced innovation, reduced cost, promotion of standards and elimination of vendor lock-in. In a recent IDC survey, more than 40% of CIOs said Linux is an important part of their IT strategy. According to a recent Jupiter Research report, price-sensitive small and midsize businesses are turning to Linux and other open source products as a lower-cost alternative to proprietary vendor offerings.

•  Reliable, cost-effective open source IP telephony products are available today. Open source IP toll-bypass products and open source IP softphones are on the market. An open source IP PBX product scored on par with proprietary products in a recent Miercom evaluation. In fact, Miercom recently selected that same open source IP PBX product to benchmark Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) interoperability. In addition, CT Labs recently tested an open source IP PBX for feature completeness and found the product provided all the necessary features required for an enterprise-grade IP telephony solution.

•  Open source-based IP telephony companies can change the market before traditional vendors respond. Traditional telephony system vendors cannot meet user needs without radical changes to their products and business models. The cornerstone of the traditional telephony industry – proprietary call control – must first be eliminated. The best means to achieve this is through open source. Forward-thinking industry observers now expect SIP-based open source IP telephony products will replace proprietary hardware and software with standard Linux servers, open call control, and a mixture of open source and proprietary application software.

Combining open source with a technology such as SIP offers the industry a stable, reliable and independent platform on which to build distributed applications. SIP provides a framework for multi-vendor interoperability and a compelling business proposition to value-added resellers and system integrators, and for the first time gives customers choices. Now is the time to say no to proprietary call control and vendor lock-in, and deploy standards-based IP telephony products.

Hutcheson is managing general partner with St. Paul Venture Capital. He can be reached at