VoIP Goes Open Source

VoIP vendor Pingtel is spearheading the endeavor by contributing to the open-source movement source code for its Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) software, including software for its SIPxchange IP-PBX and instant xpressa IP softphone.

"This will kick-start the uptake [of VoIP] even faster than analysts have predicted," said John Graven, COO of Computer Telephony Concepts, a solution provider in Mentor, Ohio.



Initiatives and product news from last week's show:

>> Pingtel contributed source code for Session Initiation Protocol software to open-source movement.
>> Free software to be available on Web site starting this month.
>> SIPfoundry, the software repository and legal foundation for the open-source community, held its first general meeting.
>> Microsoft touted new VoIP features in Windows CE 5.0.>> Inter-Tel launched Model 8690 color touch-screen IP phone.
>> Polycom debuted SoundPoint IP 300 entry-level phone.
>> Jasomi launched PeerPoint Embedded Edition, a software-only version of its session border controller.

Pingtel also has sponsored the formation of SIPfoundry, a non-profit umbrella organization that brings together the Vovida and reSIProcate datacom and telecom open-source projects and will serve as the software repository and legal foundation for the community.

About 100 people attended SIPfoundry's first general meeting last week at the Spring VON 2004 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

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"I hope we'll all look back on this and say this was a defining event in the industry," said Bill Rich, president and CEO of Pingtel, Woburn, Mass., as he opened the meeting.

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

Pingtel's software runs on standard Linux servers and will be available for free download from the SIPfoundry Web site in April.

Using open-source code, solution providers can drastically cut the development time it takes to build customized applications, Graven said.

Open source will also reduce solution providers' training requirements and cut the cost of VoIP solutions by 20 percent to 50 percent over competitive IP systems, said Rob Sheridan, director of sales and operations at Symtech Netricom, a Pingtel channel partner based in Toronto. The challenge will be to educate customers about Pingtel and the open-source VoIP project, he said.

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

The company also is building a channel partner program around its open-source efforts. It plans to launch the initiative later this quarter.

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

To be successful, the move toward open source will require participation from solution providers, said David Passmore, research director at Burton Group. "This really isn't consumable directly by customers without the help of a VAR or integrator," he said.