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

Posts Tagged ‘IP PBX

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.

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ChannelWeb reports that Microsoft is wishy-washy about what will to happen with it’s Response Point SMB VoIP system.

Meeting with VoIP VARs, Response Point Program Manager John Frederickson said Microsoft doesn’t currently plan to release future versions of Response Point. It will, however, continue to maintain the product and evaluate specific feature requests.  The company will also continue supporting OEMs and selling Response Point 1.0 Service Pack 2.

So, you want to buy a dead/legacy-ed out product because…?

Back in May, Microsoft laid off a bunch of people working on Response Point and hasn’t said diddly about plans to develop/release a 2.0 version.  Things don’t look good as the Response Point GM has been moved over to Microsoft’s search group and there’s a “small” engineering team still around to maintain the product, but Response Point is “funded” and has a marketing budget through June 30, 2010.

An email from Microsoft to ChannelWeb said the company didn’t “announce anything” at the meeting and expects to have more details to share on future development at the end of this calendar year.

Some VARs love Response Point, but they are discomforted that Microsoft has basically frozen the product.  Other players in the IP PBX game would like to see Response Point just Go Away – the Digium people seem to be especially catty when it comes to the SMB PBX.

On June 27, Fonality starts the first round of its mixed martial arts (MMA) style “Fight club” rounds.  Chris Lyman, you need to cut back on the Red Bull, brother!

They call it Fonality Fight Club. As a stunt, invitation to hit the boss, and/or stress relief, 17 Fonality staff members, will “with no previous fighting experience, will be getting into a ring and attempting to knock out or submit each other in a UFC-style MMA tournament.”   Up on the website, you can find more details, including videos, lightweight and middleweight brackets, and there’s a Twitter feed buried in there to boot.

Lyman is a big MMA fan, if memory serves.  And somehow, I could see one of Chris’s underlings getting him to “tap out” in a cage… and still have a job the next day 🙂

More seriously, I don’t know if this is crazy or crazy like a fox.  MMA is popular among the *ahem* 18-34 demographic.  But then, people buying Fonality products probably fit more into the NASCAR demographic than the anything else.  I suppose if Chris was really serious, he’d have the championship rounds on the floor of IT EXPO, add some real excitement to the next TMC trade show.

And what do they do for fun down in Huntsville?  I suspect it is called the Digium FLIGHT club.  CEO Danny Windham and CTO Mark Spencer are avid pilots.  And both of them are too mellow to hop into a cage and physically beat the hell out of someone.

When the axe came down at Microsoft last week, the Response Point small business phone team took a hit. How fatal it is to the business and new product releases is up for debate amongst the peanut gallery.

Whispers of Response Point’s demise started out from an anonymous post on a blog tracking Microsoft layoffs saying that the entire Response Point team had been “canned.”  Microsoft begs to differ and ZDNet quotes a company spokesperson saying—

  • Microsoft continues to support Response Point version 1.0. and current OEMs, service providers and resellers that are selling it. Customers will continue to be supported through their OEMs.
  • Microsoft will continue to promote the product online and spotlight compatible 3rd party services and add-on products.
  • The Response Point team has not been moved to another division and
  • The team is evaluating the strategy for the next version of the product and will continue to investigate the opportunity in the small business market.

Response Point has been kicking around since October 2007 and the IP PBX is targeted at SMBs with one to 50 phones.  SP2 — the latest release — included support for basic call queuing, better SIP trunking, and, VPN support, an automated night receptionist scheduler, and URL/HTML customization for web 2.0/mash-up style creations.

Around IT Expo in February, the Response Point “team” numbered a lean-mean 35 members. No indications on how many people got the axe last week or how many remain.

Shoutout to Bill Miller for the Tweet
Sources: Microsoft Response Point blog and ZDNet’s blog.


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