Doug on IP Comm – An independent voice on VoIP, telecom, and IP Communication

I am in the process of “transferring the flag” from wordpress.com to my own site at http://dougonipcomm.com.   As much as I like the ease of use for WordPress.com blog hosting,  I can do more in terms of customization and monetization if I’m on a stand-alone site.

If you are a frequent visitor, redo your bookmark now. At somepoint i”m going to take everything down from this location except a pointer to the new site.

Glendale, AZ & Washington DC – Pictures from Thursday’s keynotes at AstriCon 2009.

IBM_cto_mike_smith_at_astricon

IBM CTO Mike Smith talks all about Digium’s role as an ISV on IBM’s Smart Cube program.  Companies with Smart Cube can pull down Asterisk from IBM’s online  Smart Business marketplace.

danny_windham_digium

Digium CEO Danny Windham recapping 2009 in terms of challenges and opportunities.  Windham said that in the budget squeezes of the past year, companies have looked to open source as a more economical and cost-effective means of doing business — good stuff for Asterisk and other open source companies.

steve_sokol_digium

And what’s AstriCon without Steve Sokol? Steve founded AstriCon 6 years ago and got the shows — and himself — bought by Digium.

Glendale, AZ & Washington DC – Pictures from AstriCon 2009 on Wednesday October 14, 2009.

Keynote audience at AstriCon 2009

Keynote audience at AstriCon 2009

It was a full ballroom for both days of keynotes.

Allworx founder Jeff Szczepanski at AstriCon 2009

Allworx founder Jeff Szczepanski at AstriCon 2009

You run into a lot of interesting people in the hallways of AstriCon — like the founder of Allworx.

Google Chris DeBona keynote at AstriCon 2009

Google Chris DiBona keynote at AstriCon 2009

Chris DiBona delivers the Wednesday morning keynote, talking up all kinds of goodness about open source software.  You need stats on open source downloads and popularity? He’s got ‘em.

Digium's John Todd showing off his shirt at AstriCon 2009

Digium's John Todd showing off his shirt at AstriCon 2009

John Todd shows off his newest tie-dye shirt. He gets them custom made, only going to show there’s no accounting for taste.

Glendale AZ & Washington DC – As Digium celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Asterisk IP telephony platform this week at the AstriCon developer’s conference with cake and funny hats, this year’s keynote presentation by IBM CTO Mike Smith drifted into the mundane and dull — a very good thing.

Smith, brought in to talk about Digium’s role as an ISV (independent software vendor) in IBM’s Smart Cube platform/Smart Business program, put up a series of slides and descriptions for IBM’s ISV certification process to warm the heart of any nervous SMB IT work thinking about purchasing Asterisk for a Smart Cube server through IBM’s online applications store.

Since IBM services as the single point of contact or — as Smith described it – “the single throat to choke” — for technical support on the Smart Cube, Digium had to adjust and code and jump through  a number of hoops so a commercial version of Asterisk would be available through Big Blue.

Net-net of the qualification process is a product that IBM is comfortable offering.  It may be dull, but this is a good thing since IBM’s process and attention to detail is the sort of thing that will give warm fuzzies to anyone prone to buy IBM servers for their business — fuzzies that extend to the purchase of Asterisk as an IP PBX solution loaded on the Smart Cube Server.

This is a Good Thing. It isn’t PR sexy like the whole Skype for Asterisk announcement last year (and BTW, we know where those Skype folks are these days), but it is another solid step in moving Asterisk into the corporate mainstream.

IBM is also providing another channel for Digium to distribute Asterisk and channel partners who sell the Smart Cube solution now get a chance to provide a PBX along with a data server — plus making some money in providing handsets and configuring a phone system for their customers.  Again, contrast the potential here for Digium to grow its business through (dull but trusted) IBM and its channel partners verses last year’s talk from Skype to A) Develop a business strategy B) Find and train channel partners and C) Ultimately make money by recurring revenue on SkypeOut minutes sold…

(FYI, Skype was talking up love of channels and the Skype partner program about a month ago in Miami, but that’s what they were talking about last year at AstriCon 2008 and at CES 2009… so what’s the hold up?)

Net-net: IBM may not be exciting and flashy, but for most buyers, this is a Very Good Thing indeed.

You’ll find three (3) pieces about HD voice from AstriCon over at the HD Connect Now website (www.hdconnectnow.org)–

Bottom line: You have to look REALLY hard to find a VoIP handset that doesn’t have support for the G.722 wideband codec these days.  Even Cisco’s $130 cheap-end VoIP phone has G.722 built in… and yes, I’m sure people are going to start nit-picking about mic quality, speaker quality, does the gear really sample at 16 KHz, etc… we’ll see.

Also very interesting that AT&T is quietly trialing HD voice in its back yard. No details yet on exactly what is going on; I’m hoping the company will be as forthcoming as Verizon Business, but then again, AT&T never rolled out Casabi after playing with it nearly a decade ago..

Someone stumbled across Comcast’s quiet rollout of “HomePoint” service in Florida at the end of last week, but the cable company is making up for a soft rollout with a launch of a marketing campaign in Denver today (Monday, October 12).  Comcast plans to roll out the service to other markets in the months to come.

Most wonks looking at this seem to be going ga-ga at the simple expedient of deploying a combination of router and cable modem — can we say “yawn” here? — and missing the point that the HomePoint phone runs DECT 6.0 and has the Casabi service embedded in it.

Casabi is a client/server technology that puts a SIP client with a “lite” web browser directly on the phone so you can do very simple things like download ticker updates on things like news, sports, and the weather straight to the phone, as well as read email and do other interesting tricks.

A Comcast spokesperson said HomePoint would support SMS text messaging down the road, so a home user could get texted; the feature isn’t currently available.

Interestingly, Thomson previously said it was planning to roll out “Advanced Cable Gateway” to Comcast in the third quarter of this year.

Does this gear support HD Voice? Welll, the ACG supports DECT 6.0, but there’s no explicit naming of CAT-iq. Nor is there any reference to G.722 codec support.  At this point, it is not clear if HD voice will be embedded in the second generation of ACGs Thomson is working on and/or if HD voice will be available through existing hardware as a firmware upgrade to the ACG and handsets.   Comcast is being nice enough to look into some HD-specific questions I lobbed onto them today, so stay tuned.

Having bought up every other VoIP apps company it could get its hands on, BroadSoft is in the process of acquiring privately-held QoS monitoring firm Packet Island.   Hmmm…

BroadSoft says the acquisition is being made to address “the critical need” for ensuring QoS and QoE (quality of experience) for real-time (i.e. phone and video) communications.  The company gets an expanded portfolio to offer its existing (large, over 450 service providers) customer base of carriers, so service providers in turn can offer enhanced QoS assessments and monitoring of services and deploy VoIP and video services with guaranteed end-to-end carrier-grade service delivery.

Packet Island’s solutions offer lifecycle management for QoS/QoE, so you run them before deploying VoIP and video, do the deployment and run them to establish a baseline, then monitor and reassess (i.e. recurring revenue) on a periodic basis. There’s also the usual troubleshooting tools for pinpointing problems and some buzzwords throw in about “cloud” monitoring and DPI technology.

Terms of the deal were, of course, not announced between the two companies, but BroadSoft says it is keeping all Packet Island employees while Packet Island founder and CEO Praveen Kumar will be parked,er assume the role of BroadSoft’s chief Technologist if I’m interpreting the press release correctly.

Hmm….

OK, so BroadSoft gets a set of products and services (services = recurring revenue good) to offer its universe of carriers, but this is a couple of steps out of the company’s traditional VoIP application server space. Of course, BroadSoft has bought up pretty much all the other VoIP application server players (Sylantro, GENBAND), so it has to do something to continue to grow.  It would be interesting to know the terms of the deal, since BroadSoft acquired Sylantro at a firesale price (stock swap, assumption of debt).  If BroadSoft paid out cash,  that would have been one indicator (i.e.  generating cash so they can go buy firms). If it is a stock delay, that’s another indicator.

Regardless, it appears BroadSoft is starting to expand its taste for acquisitions so don’t be surprised to see a couple of more deals go down in the months to come.

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