Digium Aims for Mass Market

Asterisk creator and sponsor Digium put the mass market squarely in its sights today with its acquisition of three year-old Asterisk PBX company Switchvox.

While Asterisk has earned a devoted following among technology experts, the formidable challenges of implementing the open source telephony system is a barrier to wide adoption. Earlier this year, Digium took a first step toward greater simplicity by introducing the AsteriskNow appliance. Now the company is adding to its portfolio a feature-rich turnkey PBX that claims 66,000 users (seats).

“If you look at where Asterisk has been adopted, it’s a technically sophisticated audience — system integrators and enterprises, organizations that have the telephony expertise and technology expertise to use Asterisk,” explains Digium CEO Danny Windham.

“We have been looking at things that are necessary to grow the business. The most important thing is making it easy to use — packaging it for small and medium sized applications. Switchvox has made it [Asterisk] really easy to use.”

Digium looked at about 30 different packaged PBX offerings before finally deciding on the Switchvox acquisition, according to Windham. “Switchvox had the most reliable product, the most functional product and the Switchvox team is culturally compatible.”

He points to the value-add that comes built-in with Switchvox’s product as significant customer benefits.

“Take the example of a small business, a real estate office running Switchvox PBX and a CRM system like Salesforce.com or SugarCRM. When the phone rings, the customer record in the CRM system is displayed. It also brings up Google Maps showing the caller’s location and opens up the caller’s URL. Before answering the phone you know who’s calling and the whole history.”

But does this move put into question Digium’s commitment to the open source community? An emphatic ‘no’ is Windham’s answer.

“Digium is spending more today to support the open source project than anytime in its history,” he says. “The stronger the [Switchvox] business is, the more resources we have to apply to open source projects.”

At the end of the day, Switchvox and Digium appears to be a marriage made in heaven, albeit a long distance marriage, as the Switchvox team will remain in San Diego as Digium’s western regional office.

“We believe Asterisk is the most popular open source IP telephony system out there,” Windham says. “We believe that Switchvox is the most popular open source PBX out there.”

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