Digium pushes Asterisk into the mainstream

The recent ITexpo and the upcoming Astricon are bringing a stream of Asterisk related announcements. One trend that we have seen in the last few months, is the “growing up” of Digium. You can see a major effort to productize Asterisk and make it more attractive to the Enterprise market. How will this effect the loyal community following is yet to be seen. Another announcement that just came out is about interoperability certification between Digiums Asterisk Business Edition platform and the Grandstream Phone Series. Since Grandstream is probably the most popular low end phone, this is a good addition to Digium’s previous announcement of a similar agreement with Polycom, which covers the mid-high end of the IP Phone market.

Will agreements like this make the Business Edition ($995) more attractive to resellers and businesses than the open source edition ($Free) ??

Will Digium take business away from their existing resellers? And, will those resellers move over to other open source PBXs?? The VoIP reseller market is growing and times are interesting :-).

A Great Business Opportunity for VoIP Resellers

On the wake of my last post, which emphasized the tremendous opportunities by integrating voice into business processes, here is some more good news. Tom Keating writes how fast food chains are using VoIP to enhance their customer experience. I loved his suggestion about putting a GPS in the delivery van and then when it is nearby, automatically initiating a call to the customer saying “Your pizza is a few minutes away”. This is way more than just using VoIP to take and distribute orders.

If the big chains are doing it, so can you. There are great Business Opportunities out there for VoIP resellers. Of course you can get in the door, by offering a IP based distributed call center, which will offload calls from busy stores and distribute orders. As Tom writes, the savings are immediate since stores can cancel analog lines and staff can concentrate on preparing orders without missing a call, which goes to a remote agent. Heck, these agents can even be part time workers are home. I know one voip based call center that has almost 400 agents working at home! (Disclosure – they are one of our customers :-)).

Once you are in the door, the opportunities for the voip reseller are endless. All kinds of mashups come to mind. Just keep in mind that you want to improve and streamline their existing processes. Sit down with the managers and find out what causes them the most pain. Go home and go your homework. Then go back to the customer and blow them up out of the water, with an efficient IP based system, that will not only save them money, it will also be much more flexible.

My work with the Flat Planet Phone Company has introduced me to many situations where IP Communications was a revolutionary change for the customer. They could not believe that such things were possible. Many small businesses assume that in order to get big business features you need big bucks. Not true with VoIP. Go ahead and find out. I am here to help with ideas if needed. Good Luck!

What do you do after you win the contest?

After nabbing first place at the Etel voice mashup contest in Febuary, Thomas Howe has decided to run his own contest. As Andy reports

Comunicano client, The Thomas Howe Company and Sylantro are teaming up to challenge developers to create the best Voice 2.0 mashups and present them at Sylantro’s Global Summit in Las Vegas, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. This latest contest will generate new technology solutions to real problems faced by enterprise and businesses today. Thomas is widely regarded as one of the masters of the mashup following his eTel contest win last February.

Thomas was one of the first to get it, voice over ip, is just another type of data. What is more productive than integrating voice data with other business data and processes?? Thomas had a great post about Voice Mashups, last month – I definitely suggest that you read it. In general, if you are interested in knowing more about this subject, follow Thomas, he knows what he is talking about.

Asterisk is da boss!

Digium®, Inc., the Asterisk® Company, announced yesterday that its popular Asterisk VoIP telephony platform has won the InfoWorld “Best of Open Source Software” Bossie Award for 2007. Digium is the only open source VoIP provider to make the list.

In fact, Mark Spencer and Digium have spawned a whole new community and industry while creating tremendous wealth for thousands of entrepreneurs. Just in case you don’t know most of the Voice 2.0 applications making noise today are based on Asterisk. In fact Digium predicts that over 12 BILLION (yes billion) calls will be made this year through asterisk servers. Wow!

I agree with Mark on the quote below and wish him and Digium continued success!

“Asterisk is indeed taking the VoIP world by storm,” said Mark Spencer, CTO and founder of Digium. “Receiving this industry recognition from IDG and InfoWorld is not only a win for Digium, but the entire open source telephony community as a whole. Digium is committed to taking Asterisk to even greater heights and developing new ways for businesses all over the world to experience cost savings and flexibility never before possible with proprietary VoIP solutions.”

How to build your own Power Plant

While I am hooked on how to start your own phone company, my friend David Birnbaum is busy building his own power plant. As the New York Times reports, David invested $1m and installed on his roof top state-of-the-art, natural gas-fired 65-kilowatt microturbine. Microturbines are basically like jet engines bolted to a roof. Instead of producing thrust, they cogenerate electricity and heat.

David decided to install a microturbine because his company was growing and he needed more telecommunications equipment, which would generate more heat. After the 2003 blackout, he wanted to ensure that his customers would have uninterrupted service.dave-b.jpg

The new unit, installed in February, provides exactly the kind of distributed power generation called for in Mayor Bloomberg’s 25-year plan for a greener city, which was released in April. It will supply all the company’s electricity, and the surplus heat it generates will run a chiller to keep the business’s computers and telecommunications hardware cool.

But as the NYT reports, David has been unable to turn on his $1 million worth of new equipment because the city still is caught up in regulatory procedures. All that is missing on the new setup is two feet of pipe where the natural gas meter should go, and it cannot be installed until the city gives its final approval…

David, it is much easier to start your own phone company!

Flat Planet numbers up 89% in August!

I was just looking at our statistics for August and I was happy to see that our minutes in August are up 89% over July. While it is true that our big advantage is the services that we provide, it is still great to see that customer usage, as measured by minutes, is going up nicely.

We have also introduced a whole bunch of new features which I hope to write  about in the next few days.

THE List of the TechCrunch 40 (39)

Paul Boutin, did the dirty work, by copying down the banners at the show! It seems that TC is very strict about their  embargo, and selected companies are not allowed to say anything before the show. Hmmm. maybe next time they should cover the banners until the morning :-). None of these names sound familiar to me except Cubic Telecom and Tripit, but who am I?

Here is the list:

Clickable

Flock

Ceedo

Cake Financial

DocStoc

CastTV

Cubic Telecom

CrowdSpirit

Cognitive Code

Mint

MusicShake

Ponoko

PowerSet

PubMatic

Teach the People

8020 Publishing

Faroo

GotStatus

FlowPlay

LoudTalks

Kerpoof

MetaPlace

mEgo

Orgoo

StoryBlender

Spottt

TruTap

Tripit

Viewdle

Zivity

Wixi

Xobni

ZocDoc

eXtreme Reality

WC

AppYou

WooMe

Yap

Which conferences will be broadcast on the net?

The summer is over, and it seems that the conference season is upon us. ITexpo just finished. Techcruch40 starts today (Pat, if you are in town, make sure not to miss it, I hear it will be interesting…), Astricon is coming up and after that VON Fall, Von Europe Fall, Von Israel and that is just a short list.

There are those who spend their time, jetting from one show to another, but most of us can’t. VON has taken a lead, together with a few other shows and broadcasts part of the conferences on the net. I am surprised that more conference organizers do not do this. With todays technology it is easy and cheap. Blog.tv is a good place to start if you don’t know how to do it.

So why don’t they do it? Is the fear of cannibalizing their attendee audience, stopping them, as one major show producer confided in me? Guys, put your fears to rest. No one can go to all the shows. Broadcasting on the net will do the opposite. It enables people who never took part in your conference to taste it, and maybe decide as I did once, to attend the show in person next time!

Lets face it, no one can replace the hallway meetings (well maybe Second Life, but that is still years away), one on one meetings over a cup of coffee etc. That is the real attraction. Broadcasting on the net is just another way of promoting the conference – go ahead and do it!