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Digium Acquisition Shakes Up Open-Source VoIP

Digium, the caretaker of the Asterisk open-source VoIP platform, is snapping up one of the vendors that has built products based on its software.

VoIP

Digium Thursday will unveil plans to acquire Switchvox, one of the many SMB-focused vendors that have cropped up in recent years with products built on top of Digium's open-source Asterisk VoIP software. Digium is the primary developer of Asterisk.

"Switchvox gives us a more complete solution that scales to several hundred users," said Bill Miller, vice president of product management and marketing at Digium, Huntsville, Ala. "It's a turnkey solution that doesn't require as much expertise to install. Many installations are done remotely."

Both Digium and Switchvox were named as 2007 CRN Emerging Tech vendors in June.

Digium is making the announcement at the AstriCon 2007 open-source telephony conference in Phoenix. Switchvox exhibited at the show on Wednesday under its own name but will be rebranding its booth to exhibit under the Digium name today, Miller said.

The deal officially closes on Friday. Terms were not disclosed, as both companies are privately held. "They're a small company, but they're profitable," Miller noted.

Digium has been aggressively pushing its open-source VoIP agenda through several moves aimed at bolstering its standing in the channel.

In January the company brought on Danny Windham as CEO and Steven Harvey as vice president of worldwide sales. Both came from channel-friendly networking vendor Adtran, a Huntsville neighbor and an investor in the VoIP company.

Harvey in March oversaw the launch of Digium's first formal channel program, which foreshadowed the rollout soon thereafter of a line of partner-friendly Digium appliances.

Digium is currently courting several potential OEM partners for that appliance -- which runs Asterisk Business Edition for up to 50 users -- and expects to disclose its first deal soon, Miller said.

A key piece of the Switchvox acquisition for Digium is the end-user interface that San Diego-based Switchvox has built for its products. The system integrates with CRM packages from Salesforce.com and SugarCRM, enabling records from those systems to automatically pop up on the Switchvox Switchboard interface. The interface is also tied in with Google Maps to create a Web 2.0 mash-up that show the location of inbound callers.

"Switchvox will be the underpinnings of Digium's unified communications strategy going forward," Miller said.

Switchvox has 1,400 installed systems with 65,000 endpoints to its credit. The company has about 30 "extremely active" channel partners, with another 1,400 signed on, Miller said. Digium has approximately 60 solution providers in the United States.

Those partners will eventually be managed under a single Digium channel organization. Both channel programs will continue to operate as is for at least a month, Miller said.

Detailed product plans will be disclosed soon, probably at the Digium AsteriskWorld channel conference in Boston next month, he said.

Switchvox's 15 employees will be joining Digium, which altogether will have just under 120 employees. Switchvox will maintain its San Diego office, with Switchvox President and CEO Joshua Stephens staying on as general manager of that location. Tristan Degenhardt, Switchvox's vice president of operations will join Digium as a product manager.

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