Digium Debuts Free Switchvox Mobile, Channel Certifications


Digium on Wednesday officially debuted Switchvox Mobile, a version of its open source VoIP system designed for use with iPhone and BlackBerry handhelds. It's a free application, and one that Digium executives say will help VARs evangelize Switchvox that much more effectively.

Switchvox Mobile has been in soft launch, available in the app stores for Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion BlackBerry devices, for a few weeks already.

"The channel is pretty stoked about it," said Tristan Barnum, Digium's director of Switchvox product marketing. "It's just one more thing they get to show for Switchvox that it's not only current but also doing things a little differently. And it's free, so it goes along with our policy of not nickel-and-diming you to death. If you're a channel partner with 50 Switchvoxes out there, you can every single one of those users a free app to use Switchvox from their phone."

Digium has worked up a head of steam behind both the Switchvox products and its position as the most visible vendor in the Asterisk community. As acceptance of open source telephony grows, so too has Digium's VAR base.

Now that base has a better mobile infrastructure story to tell, Barnum explained. Switchvox Mobile is connected to a user's phone extension, so when they make a call through their mobile device, it appears on the receiving end as if it's coming from their work line.

Through the app, billing and company directory options also work on the mobile device as they would for an IP phone at the office, she said. Voicemail functions and call notification rules are also included.

Users need the latest version of Switchvox (4.5.2) to use the mobile apps, but Digium is also offering a "demo mode," available for download, through which prospective users can download the app pre-populated with fake company greetings and directory options, just to get a feel for how it works.

"It's another sales tool," Barnum said. "And keeping it free is important because so many of our competitors charge for apps like this -- a lot of money, per user, to get the same functionality. The reviews have been awesome so far."

Switchvox Mobile works only for iPhone and BlackBerry at the moment, but Barnum said other versions -- including one for Android -- are in the works.

Digium has been working to keep its channel program expansion apace with its technology updates, and earlier this month, it announced the Digium Channel Certification Program, which will train and officially recognize partners for their Switchvox and Asterisk specializations.

Digium partners need to be Digium Select or Registered Channel Partners and also pass both a Digium Certified Asterisk Professional (dCAP) exam and online product training.

Partners who pass the exam and go through the training then not only get the official certification from Digium but also become listed on AsteriskExchange, the online marketplace for Asterisk-based products and integrators that Digium launched back in January.

The training program fills a major void in Digium's channel program, agreed partners, who told CRN back in December that the lack of formalized training was one thing holding Digium back.

Tim Halleran, president of Secure Datacom, a Sunrise, Fla.-based solution provider, said it will undoubtedly help his team better articulate the Digium value proposition to customers as well as attract other solution providers to send more of their business Digium's way.

He urged Digium to keep its foot on the gas for both channel and technology updates.

"They should use this as a foundation -- a floor rather than a ceiling," Halleran said. "The more they can educate partners and the more mindshare they can develop with partners, the more they're providing good, organic growth in the channel. We've ponied up; Digium is really our primary PBX solution now, and for them to see more of that it's going to take more people in the channel espousing its value."