Digium Asterisk, Switchvox, IP Phones: All Talk, Lots Of Action


Digium has been the VoIP market's little engine that could for a while now, but the open-source telephony company is hard-charging into its next major growth phase. It's a phase in which its channel is both large and visible, its appeal goes further upmarket, and its app dev-centric software solutions are more robust.

A few years after the Asterisk channel finally cemented a national presence, Digium passed 2,000 solution provider partners and is enjoying additional lift from the continued popularity of Asterisk, which sees north of 2 million downloads a year and for which Digium is the primary steward.

But the Huntsville, Ala., company has combined that momentum with some of its best-ever industry notices, including its second consecutive inclusion in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications and the successful launch of Digium high-definition IP phones this past February.

 

[Related: Calling Card: Digium Delivers Own Built and Branded IP Phones]

Jim Butler, director of global channel sales, said Digium's priority remains the targeted recruitment of new solution providers. But it also will continue to add channel resources in much the same way it made a significant marketing and channel push behind the IP phone launch and will provide sweeter channel incentives for top-performing partners, who now have more MDF available to them and have grown their Digium revenue 40 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2012, he said.

The IP phones, of which there are currently three models with list prices between $129 and $279, were a watershed for Digium, which traditionally had relied on handset partnerships with IP phone makers such as Polycom. The advantage for Digium in having its own created-and-branded phones is that it can tightly integrate them with Switchvox, its Asterisk-based VoIP system, while bringing down full-system costs and positioning Digium as being able to offer more of the communications solution.

Digium phones have been attached to nearly 80 percent of Switchvox sales since their April availability date, Butler said.

"One thing we're seeing is a trend toward larger systems with more users," Butler said. "There's all kinds of reasons that could be happening, but having a Digium-branded phone helps because it's a total solution -- a full system -- that has an appeal to a larger user."

Digium also has been saluted for the continued build-out of its channel program, which organizes partners into Select, Registered and Affiliate partners. Higher-tier partners now see more access to MDF, for example, and deal registration is also now standard.

Finally, Digium has become a more aggressive competitor and throughout the past year has offered discounts aplenty to customers looking to switch out their aging Nortel infrastructure or make a change from 3Com VCX, which 3Com owner Hewlett-Packard recently confirmed will see end-of-sale this year. Digium is offering 10 percent to 15 percent off MSRP right off the bat to solution providers that can reel in those deals, Butler said.

NEXT: Digium's Big-Picture Strategy Appeals To VARsIn addition to the broader market purview, Digium is doing channel recruitment in its figurative backyard: the Asterisk community, which while dominated by Digium certainly isn't owned by it. Butler said the demand for Asterisk integration among channel partners and developers also has expanded due to the overall popularity of Asterisk-based solutions. Digium earlier this year hired a well-known Asterisk engineer, David Duffett, to take over as its Asterisk Community director and brought previous director Bryan Johns into its product management team.