Pingtel Launches Open-Source VoIP Community

SIPfoundry, an umbrella organization that includes other open-source projects such as reSIProcate and Vovida, plans to hold its first public meeting Tuesday at the Spring VON 2004 IP communications conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Through SIPfoundry, Pingtel hopes to mirror the success of other open- source efforts, such as Linux and Apache, in the VoIP market, tapping developers worldwide to contribute to the growth of IP telephony, messaging, presence and collaboration software based on Session Initiation Protocol, an emerging call control standard.

Pingtel has contributed code for its software-based SIPxchange IP-PBX and Instant Xpressa softphone to the open-source movement, which run on Linux-based hardware and are available to download free of charge from the SIPfoundry Web site.

The source code is available through a reciprocal license that requires any modifications to the code to be made available through open-source, said Bill Rich, president and CEO of Pingtel, Woburn, Mass. Such licensing typically speeds the pace of technology innovation and, through constant peer review, results in higher code quality, Rich said.

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Pingtel expects to play a role analogous to the one taken up by Red Hat and SUSE in the Linux community, whereby Pingtel plans to create an SIPxchange distribution for enterprise customers available via subscription that packages the open-source code in binary form with service and support offerings as well as code updates, documentation and training.

Pingtel's SIPxchange distribution will cost around $1,000 per processor per year.

The company is also building a channel partner program for VARs and integrators that will likely launch in the latter half of the second quarter, Rich said.

"We've got [less than] 10 partners that are really active today, but we're getting about three a day asking to [partner with us]," he said.

Pingtel is also developing an automated back-end system to help distribute leads to its channel partners.

The open-source VoIP effort promises to deliver technology at a lower cost than competitive offerings from vendors such as Avaya, Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, Rich said.

However, Cisco, with its lineup of SIP-enabled IP phones and gateways, is the vendor best-positioned to work with the SIPfoundry open-source community, Rich said.

"It's fair to say they're well aware of what we're doing and well aware of the opportunities for co-opetition," Rich said.

The next step for the open-source community, which already boasts a handful of customers such as Swarthmore College, Jasomi and iTouchPoint , is to promote and market itself.