Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Closing 2008 on a High Note!

As I look back over the past year I can honestly say it has been a successful year for disruptors. So let's see what my top 5 things are that make up my perspectives.

1. Sun Microsystems acquires MySQL for $1B.

MySQL is truly a disruptor of the data base world using open source. Like Digium, they can't track everyone using the free open source versions, but each and every installation in a business has taken revenues from traditional players or certainly has disrupted their thinking and changed their marketing strategies.

2. 28 straight profitable growth quarters for Digium

The creator, owner, and corporate sponsor for the leading open source telephony systems on the planet - Asterisk - has experienced a consistent growth path for 6 years. Yes, I beat this drum frequently, but it's very telling of the trends and growth. Day by day, week by week, and month by month each and every installation takes market share, IP lines and revenues away from traditional players. Soon, you will read more about growing market shares of Asterisk asnd Digium's role as leader of this market.

3. The PR world looks different each and every day

Yes, we use a PR firm - world class company as well. However, we are at the beginning of the end for traditional "non-evolving" PR. The Internet started the sea change. Bloggers, out-of-print trade publications, new web sites that replace print, advertising methodologies, and now the economy will change most PR. It will take some time to see the entire overhaul, but PR firms that do not change with the times and take the lead using new business and social media outlets will die. Like the original VON died, like BCR magazine moved into a blog and web site, we are seeing the metamorphosis take place in real time. You've seen me write about Twitter, you may have seen or heard or use Facebook or LinkedIn - they have changed the world for recruiters (a.k.a headhunters), keeping in touch with ex-colleagues and business partners as well as school buddies. Face it, press releases, books, and budgets will look different in the future!

4. Using cell phones as a phone

This one will be debated by different folks, but I make and receive fewer calls with my iPhone than anytime over the past 10 years. My iPhone is used for email, twitter, Internet access, single key weather reports, single key market reports, google maps, texting - but phone calls? Ok, maybe 10% of the time. Will email be next? How many emails go to your SPAM filter?

5. Video, YouTube, Podcasts and Webinars

As bandwidth availability and broadband ubiquity has grown, video has become a total disruptor. Having developed multimedia capabilities using ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and various broadband technology, it's finally here. More will occur during 2009 from 10-20 second segments to 2 minute segments you'll see instructions and "how-to's", personal branding, general branding, video mail, and short subjects. Simply go to YouTube, type in virtually any subject, you can find something. From music videos, to education to self-promotion, it has become acceptable and used by a growing percentage.

Over the next 12 months, many technology based advancements will change the face of communications, personal and business relationships, and in this economic uncertainty more people will be home discovering these new tools, outlets and entertaining advancements all while saving money. perhaps nothing is new to you as a reader, and if this is true, you are on teh wagon alreaday. The average person is not there yet and perhaps has no clue about these emerging changes in how we live!

Every day new bloggers arrive, new podcasts arrive, new webinars using basic low-to-medium quality cameras appear and people watch and enjoy these events. Businesses looking for targeted lead generation will expand their use of these tools in new and innovative ways!

Stop by and chat on Twitter and let's see together how 2009 evolves!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Business Communications - How much change is welcomed?

Over the past few weeks I have attended and been panelists at both National Association of Realtors on Business VoIP and VoiceCon on The Role of Open Source Telephony in the Enterprise. Today's post will look at some trends from vendors I saw and customers I spoke with. Why is this a column for the "Open Disruptor"? The basic fact is because a large number of businesses are facing the same challenge: businesses must become more efficient and maintain or grow revenues with less budget or people. Basically, the network manager, IT Director, and small business owner's mantra has become a common theme, "I have to do more with less!"

How does one do this? There are many ways to explore, and depending on the individual, the priorities change but here are my top 10 "take aways" from these past few weeks:

1. "I need new tools that make me more efficient"

* IT departments need more efficient management tools to optimize performance and save costs
* SMBs or Small and medium sized businesses need to save costs and be more efficient
* Think Web 2.0 Services

2. "I can't afford to buy a new system even though I've been planning for it for some time! How can I get what I need accomplished now?"

* Oops. Delays, lost budgets, layoffs in larger companies and now it's "cap (spending) and grow" a different way (more efficient, less costly)
* SMBs have little or no money to spend as they need to survive the economic challenges
* Think open source and Web 2.0 Services

3. "All I see are large players delivering more features that are more expensive! They look great: video, integrated cell phone with office, web-based tools. But my system can't handle these capabilities without a rip-and-replace or very costly investment!"

* Many IT Directors have outdated legacy systems that can't be expanded thus new systems need to be purchased to get the benefits they need to solve today's problems.
* SMBs are more open to newer solutions that can make their businesses more effective.
* Real Estate offices are looking to be both more efficient and maintain control of their client base in spite of high agent turnover
* Think open source, VoIP and Web 2.0 Services

4. "Too much fluff!"

* A couple of end users I spoke with sat through one large vendor's presentation only to say, "Huh? What was that all about?" They did not tell me anything except I need to spend more money and get trained!"
* Think open source to reduce total cost of ownership

5. "I want to take advantage of the Internet but have tight money and not a senior IT team!"

* This is where I told users to look at disruptive companies. Some have open source software-based solutions lowering total cost of ownership; some have new business models offering special lease programs and tradein programs
* Think open source

6. "Twitter Twitter everywhere!"

* New PR and Marketing tools are being used around social media. At least one VoiceCon exhibitor and competitor went and followed competitors and pre-registration lists pre-show. When I caught up with the PR firm who did this, the person was a new-hire PR team addition to leverage new media and gt their message out.
* Digium has been using Twitter and created Digium, AsteriskPBX, Astricon, AsteriskNOW and Switchvox accounts on Twitter to inform people and build community goodwill since earlier this year. Others are following suit but this is a huge trend and will evolve more. We used Twitter at Astricon, an Asterisk community event in September, and placed large plasma screens around the show floor.
* Think young and growing fleet afoot companies

7. Less people are traveling even to the best events

* These two events are important for their respective industries. Both had down attendance
* Quality of attendees is higher because there is no "perk" trips, only serious buyers. we have had great leads from both events that will produce revenues
* Think the fact that smaller events with more serious buyers are good, not bad

8. There are some traditional companies and analysts that just don't get it

* Working at a young company where the average age is about 26ish, I have to learn how to work with millennials. What I saw in some sessions that I attended was some traditional companies and subject matter experts refuse to acknowledge evolving trends such as open source, Twitter and other social media, and that younger workers are savvy you just need to know how to work with them.

9. More on Twitter

* During keynotes, sessions and the VoiceCon event as a whole, Tweeters would talk to each other and their followers about goings on. During one keynote, there were some interesting discussions between Microsoft, Cisco, Siemens, Digium and IBM executives
* During the NAR event, there were more breakout sessions and meet-ups on social media and blogging and how to leverage in your business than any non-social media event I have seen yet!

10. Final word on social media and Twitter

* At least one cross-over occurred between the two events as I met up with a friend I met through Twitter. She helped myself and a colleague understand unique requirements of the real estate small and medium business segment when it comes to contact management, integration of cell phones and office phones and a variety of other topics related to our respective businesses. Years ago, this would never have occurred as we learn new ways to leverage Web 2.0 and new ways to network.

Find me on Twitter here

Find Digium on Twitter here

Find asterisk here

Find Digium here

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Disruption - 140 characters at a time!

I have been collecting primary market research data in order to build a stream of posts that offer emerging trends and "realism's" to folks who care! This one will discuss how business is using twitter, one of the most disruptive tools I have seen yet, and it's just scratching the surface. I can't believe I am actually ahead of my daughter using a new web-based trend (not totally true, but it sounded good!). See Wikipedia for definitions and history:

For those not familiar, twitter is a microblogging tool that allows people to create an online ID, then follow and be followed by fellow enthusiasts. I have so far found this very useful for both business and pleasure. Nearly every day there are new tools that make it easier to accomplish some mundane or tedious task on twitter. People can post messages up to 140 characters.

For businesses, you can create alerts similar to "Google Alerts" on certain keywords. I have done this for products, company, and topics. So far, I have connected to several folks that I find that try Asterisk, Digium's world leading open source phone system software and Switchvox, Digium's turnkey business phone system solution that runs on top of Asterisk. I have helped a customer who felt compelled to post a comment and today I have connected to folks trying the Switchvox Free edition. There are Obama and McCain and Palin twitter accounts for latest news.

During the hurricane season, a group of folks collaborated on following the storm faster than almost anything I've ever seen with people in the eye of the storm passing real time information. Companies helped and people helped. It was an amazing lightning fast deployment of people and news - another application of "community"!

For fun, I am an avid Red Sox fan. The nights of Red Sox playoff games, I did use tweetscan, roomatic, and other tools to follow Red Sox related posts and made new friends who have a common bond of the Red Sox. The nights of presidential and VP debates, it was the same thing. This is collaboration and debating at its best - online among most people who are strangers and newfound online pals.

If you look for ways to learn, besides using google to search, find the top 50 or 100 twitterers and follow them. You''ll start to see the picture.

This tool can help micro-communities grow and be noticed. I have seen PR, community managers, real estate professionals, programmers and web 2.0 geeks, food critics and enthusiasts and just all kinds of good folks who want to openly communicate with others everywhere in the world!

Now I have nothing to do with the company or the product twitter, but I am a user who sees value from this disruption. There are web marketing firms, like Hubspot ( that leverage twitter among other tools for Internet Marketing. TV News liks CNN uses twitter to spread new stories. Once you get used to it, you will learn all sorts of tricks. Also, search for tools for your cell phone, iPhone (I use Hahlo), tools to build subgroups, real time tools like twhirl and it goes on on an.

The disruption is obvious. New ways to reach thousands to millions, new ways to communicate, and if you are anything like me, email, text messaging, even IM become niche products. Imagine saying email is a niche product! It's a new way to virally spread information. I post a URL/article to my followers, a few of them like the post and re-tweet to their followers. As you build your house of followers, you begin to get the picture of viral marketing and viral messaging.

Want to try it? and sign up.

A little note of caution: with good things come not so good things. You will find businesses send spam, market to you, etc. You can block these users easily.

Have fun, and feel free to share you thoughts, good bad or indifferent.

Oh and finally, be careful. It can begin to waste a lot of time if you are not selective. Most of my time on real time twitter is evenings and weekends when relaxing at home. I do use the tweetbeep tool ("google" type alerts for twitter) to send to my email where I receive work-related twitter posts to follow up and/or track.

(Find me at beelinebill on twitter)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Office of the Future

Its been a while since I looked at the business office of the next decade and what technological advancements will move companies forward. As a disruptor to the IP PBX and telephony market, Asterisk plays a role in this change. So do many other disruptors: iPhone, Android, Blackberry and maybe the new tablet computing modules.

What's unique these days is the increasing acceptance by a larger contingent of adopters of the new technology. This proves once again convenience wins over price or perfection. We know version 1.0 of anything has challenges. We know there are bugs in the software. We know budgets are being reduced.

Based on these data points, open source business phone system + mobile phone = new remote office. Its cheap, it's powerful, it works!

Now, that scratches the surface. Here are some other questions:

1. Will we use desk phones in 5 years?
2. Will we all use just a softphone or Skype for Business client software in 5 years?
3. Will we just use our cell phone which will essentially be a small PC or MAC clone with wireless network connecting to virtually anything and everything?
4. Will iPhone and Android "type" phones be our choice?
5. How will we buy our business phone system and cell phones? Web? Retailer? Vendor?
6. Will we have separate business and personal phones and/or computers?
7. In 2000-2002 during the meltdown, we had a huge increase in small business startups of 1 and 2 persons. How will 2009-2010 be in the face of today's economic times? Similar? Different?
8. Will Cisco be around as we know them or will they become different again?
9. Will Asterisk be ubiquitous enough to displace all traditional telephones as we know them today?

In general we think about these questions daily. Open Source developers subscribe to the notion of all choices being open source. Do you?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Name....Almost

Tonight I have added, "The Open Disruptor" to the front of "A Day in the Life of Digium!"

As I said before, I will add to the mix on this blog: (1) open source elements, (2) disruptive technologies, and (3) IP Telephony.

Watch here. Several items came out of IT Expo this past week and I will address log!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Don't ya hate it when.........

I wrote a short tweet on Twitter, that started like this title, and decided it would be fun to create my top 10 list from the past two years at Digium of "Don't ya hate it when........." new generation we-related events. Lets take a quick look. What are your favorite "Don't ya hate it!"

Don't ya hate it when.........

10. ....the phone rings Friday afternoons at 4:30 PM and your co-worker has a problem that must be addressed immediately before the end of the day!

9. spill coffee or tea on your clean shirt or blouse in a business meeting

8. select reply all when you did not mean to

7. select "delete", the response is slow, so you select "delete" over and over.....then each stroke deletes one message only to not be able to recover the deleted by mistake messages....oops!

6. forget the receipt on a business trip and either the client or your boss requires receipts!

5. ....Google Customer Service does not return your call when you "have to contact them" about a serious Adword problem

4. hit send before running spell-check

3. ....the "press" get the story twisted

2. ....your flight is canceled

1. ....the bird of paradise writes an incorrect flag in your payroll record

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Visionary Quadrant Raises Some Eyebrows

As I said in my last post, I'd focus on some new messaging and today kicks it off with some Microsoft thoughts. Digium, Microsoft and Shoretel are the ONLY 3 companies in Gartner Group's magic quadrant for Enterprise IP Telephony. This appears to be an honorary position for the three companies and what's interesting is the blog on nojitter - - where Marty Parker (ex Avaya executive and now a UC consultant) is questioning why Microsoft OCS gets this placement with such basic UC features.

I am not sure where Marty is parked on Digium's placement in this visionary quadrant but he sure provides some food for thought. He mentions in his point #2 so many companies that may or may not have places in today's world all trying to find their new place in UC/VoIP world, but Digium is a no-show meaning he is already underestimating open source's capability. Why do I believe this?

This is easy to answer: Open source by nature is a global phenomena ignored by some traditional TDM folks (i.e. Avaya); the shared delivery ecosystem today exists for open source telephony; it is software-based already today; the acquisition cost model is compelling and the ongoing support of open source is building infrastructure for traditional 24/7 based support; companies who are early adopters are well on their way to customize their UC systems as they grow.

Yes, companies like Digium are focused today on SMB, opportunistically penetrating Enterprise, but worldwide there are emerging Asterisk-based applications that build this shared delivery system that UC lends itself to and its all software based.

So Marty, don't underestimate the open source global ecosystem and its place in your UC model. I think we will be in for some healthy debates over the next few years as major traditional players consolidate, go by the wayside, and consolidate, while open source continues to be a major disruptor for UC and PBX.

I can't end this blog post yet until I comment on Microsoft. I love their marketing budgets for educating the world about UC, IP Telephony and VoIP. They do some nice PowerPoints. It will take gazillions of dollars to train systems builders, server and Windows resellers and it will take years to get their feature set correct since they have this baggage that has generated all this revenue already. But the purchasers and buying criteria are changing for them now. I for one, look forward to each event such as VoiceCon - - when Microsoft spends budget dollars and many of their employees visit our booth!

Note: I am still evaluating blog name changes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog Change

Over the next few weeks I will be changing the name and focus of my blog. Since this is a personal blog, not our corporate blog, we will be focusing on the corporate blog on and I will begin blogging here about trends and challenges facing Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others as well as web changes for business but from a different perspective than today's bloggers who copy and reference others, write about how to leverage social networking, and various other topics that are now starting to appear to be repetitive and overlap quite a bit. There are a few that are cool.

Expect me to draw on my 25+ years experience to share changes today and how it impacts both traditional companies and emerging companies. I may do some comparisons of old vs. new and share how people tend to deal with these changes. As a member of the "old" way of doing things that works in a younger and newer open source company, I have made the transition to today's company and want to share this with others.

I am considering new names for the new blog focus. With all the wacko blog names and web site names it will be a fun challenge to find a catchy name.

See you soon in new skins!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Growing Up!

We are experiencing growing pains. Offices are filling. people are being promoted inside to new positions supporting "growth from within" plus outside hiring brings in new blood and thinking. You can see them roaming here!

As we grow, our event grows: Astricon. Weekly calls. Expansion of keynoters outside of Digium folks. Less Digium speakers. Check it out here:

Meetings. We strive to keep short, focused, and over with.

We strive for rapid decisions....but with all the facts.

Documentation for commercial products!

We hope to see you in Phoenix!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This summer, our VPs are wearing shorts to work, including me. It used to be Mark Spencer and just engineers. Now, several executives. Glad to see this "Flip Flop" type culture.

Does anyone think a loose summer dress code increases productivity?

Has anyone done a study?

I'd think this would be a huge plus for most people. Comfort. Relaxing.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iPhone Day at Digium

Friday we had a short staff at the office. A fairly large contingent were in line at both ATT stores and the Apple store in the local new Bridge Street shopping district. The Digium folks started lining up early like 5 AM. By noon the first one showed up at the office, and by 2 PM the rest returned. As far as I know, all employees who waited received them. The Apple store had more of course than ATT did.

All were either waiting for syncing of the new units or it had just been completed so they could now twitter, text, email or surf. I don't have one as my entire family is on Verizon service, but ATT has done a tremendous job locking Apple and iPhone users into their service.

The unit is nice, nearly the exact size and weight of my Moto Q and of course both are color. But they are far from similar. My Q is great for conference calls as it has a terrific speaker phone, I have very nice Internet access, email and I like the size and weight. The iPhone however is beloved by those who buy them. I don't know a Moto Q user who can say that.

Reminds me of Asterisk - it is beloved by passionate Asterisk Community, users and developers. Can't say that about the big boys of IP Telephony!

I read one blog post today already that Asterisk download for the iPhone will be done sometime today. A Day in the life of Digium moves on!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

For the Asterisk Community

We have a new initiative that has been under way for a few weeks now. It will appear in more detail soon on both this and the Digium blog. The series of events will be a nice lift for the Asterisk Community. As in any project, we have to weigh priorities as we have so many items on our plates. A Digium day is like no other in my long career. Yes, I make typical decisions for products, features, roadmaps, people, etc. But, having a community that broadens Asterisk's reach - now that is both a challenge and a huge part of Digium heritage and culture.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another from the book, "You can't make this stuff up!"

Russell is co-maintainer of open source Asterisk and he was busy doing something physical today. Although this is a link to Russell's blog, there is no other way to do it justice:"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Balancing Act: Open Source Asterisk

Not a day goes by when a choice or discussion occurs that encompasses open source Asterisk vs. proprietary elements of a complete solution. Not all portions of "free and open" source are available in pure open source. Components like codecs (i.e. G.729) may be patent encumbered and we have to learn new ways to effectively provide these to the world at large in the best possible manner.

Mark Spencer's brainchild Asterisk has become a key core element of telephony solutions these days meaning a large number of people and companies have built their immediate future on Asterisk. As Asterisk matures, and attention moves to scalability and reliability, Digium has moved with it and enables others to build valuable solutions and components.

Some folks understand and appreciate the community vs. commercial elements and accept and work with them, others just don't however some certainly like to chastise the balancing act choices we deploy.

Being an executive on this team I get to see and hear about virtually all elements of the positive and negative surrounding our choices. Well, we are in business to grow a business, make money and to support Mark Spencer's vision and philosophy: provide an always open version of Asterisk compliant with GPLv2. We have both commercial and community priorities at play daily for precious resources. Choices abound.

All in all, "Digium Days" are among the most exciting in my 25+ year product management oriented career. The core elements (product strategy planning, market segmentation, roadmaps, product requirements, features, pricing models, packaging, etc) are the same, but the "Digium Difference" and "The Digium Way" are the most fun,interesting, hair raising and exhilarating. After over two years following my 3Com stint, this by far has been most interesting in the current pinnacle of my long career.

I've been thinking of which of those moments to write about in upcoming blogs. For those that think it's always an easy decision you are missing the more interesting part of working with Mark.

See you again soon! Off to the Huntsville Air Show with the Blue Angels!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Heard Around The Office Today

It was a typical day at Digium, so I thought I'd share a few things "I heard" today.

- - - - -

My favorite:


- - - - -

Also heard:

"They need to sign the waiver before going up with Mark and Danny"

"Can we really sell that many?"

"The Community wants this!"

"Will he really be the keynoter at Astricon?"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do CIOs Welcome Open Source?

I follow as many open source bloggers as I can find regardless of market, perspective, or message. Today I read Matt Assay's blog and thought I'd share it with my readers who follow Digium and Asterisk.

Check Matt's blog out at

and check out the original Simon Phipps (Sun) referenced blog inside Matt's blog.

As our commercial business grows around Switchvox and Asterisk Business Edition, and as it grows around larger companies getting the message, Matt's message is true in many cases as people in the purchasing process have chosen to continue to embrace the larger company "wine and dine" sales process, corporate boxes at professional sports events (ah, been there, done that!), and choose to hire and/or train IT staff to administer and manage their proprietary systems.

Although I understand why this decision is made, CIOs and IT Executives should consider options and consider running a pilot or two with open source based solutions. Are you one of these IT executives who just laugh off Asterisk and other open source choices because of "support" issues? What are you thinking?

There will be a day we have corporate boxes and wine and dine you, but for today, we can help you get access to Astricon (, the only open source telephony conference for business and developers, and more importantly could reduce your TCO for your business telephony solution.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Astricon Takes Shape

With a nice mix of the former Sokol & Associates team of Lisa and Steve plus others, along with the new Digium team of Julie and John, we are getting very close to publishing the conference tracks at Astricon ( We have added two excellent moderators, solid sponsors and many more are interested in signing on, and we have added a new first-time Astricon keynoter from Google (watch the web site soon for posting)and we are working on another new keynoter.

Our team is electronically charged up for the best ever Astricon, to be held in Glendale, AZ in September. See you there! Check out the site!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Office and Parking Lot Filling Up

Well, it's been a while since my last post. Will try and do better. Our building is fast filling up. Good offices are getting scarce and we are having large orientations weekly. It is quite fun. Now the parking lot is another story. People park all over so no one bangs their doors. A 1985 Toyota sits in the back of our lot trying to avoid anyone. I figured its so he won't hit anyone else. What frightens me, is I park a ways away as well so no one hopefully parks next to me. When I saw the Toyota and an older beat up van almost next to me, I cringed. I might have to park even further away.

Seriously, it's great we are growing. We have added some pretty strong community, customer quality, sales folks, software developers, and marketing folks and expect to be busy this coming summer. We are planning Astricon (

What is also fun to follow is Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Does anyone think this is an interesting story to follow? Who gets the handicap? Who gets the prize? Do they go it alone? I love the scenarios in front of us. Makes for something to watch besides a few twitter posts!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Digium Culture

She made my day today. A fairly new Digium employee told me one thing that sold her on working at Digium was this blog. Thank you.......

The Digium culture is unlike any other. People work hard, play hard, party hard, and are always looking at enhancing the working environment at Digium. We have a new newsletter, we have a new employee-driven unique cultural team, we have an awards recognition program, and we have an active group of softball and volleyball players. We have passion for Asterisk, the Asterisk Community and a passion for Digium.

We have make-a-wish foundation volunteer where the other day we honored the young man who benefited from our "Kiss-a-Pig" contest and year-end contest among employee teams. Where else can you get all this and work for the coolest company!?!?!?!?!

Check us out at You'll also find a flickr link there.

Very nice feedback today to learn this blog helped convince someone to work at Digium. Tomorrow is our casual day. Last time Mark Spencer sent out the one line email we had folks in very creative dress. Pictures were on both this blog and Digium's. Check us out in the next week or so, we will have some new pictures!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Open Source Download - Buy or Not?

We like the folks who do (buy something)

We like the folks who don't (buy anything)

We like the folks who say they will and then decide they won't

But the folks we like the most, and we know you'll think we're right, are the folks who say they usually don't, but today they think they might!

- - - -

What would the downloader possibly buy today?

1. TDM gateway boards

2. G.729 Licenses

3. Voice Prompts

4. Speech to text channels

5. Text to speech channels

6. Support

7. Pre-loaded software on a hardware appliance platform

8. Training and certification

9. Commercial software license

10. Consulting

So, happy downloading:

Free Source Code -

Free Distribution -

Free IP PBX, not open -

= = = = = = = =

Stop by and learn more about us at

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Math of Open Source

A few engineers were joking around today having some tongue in cheek fun talking about personalities of open source code "downloaders" of almost any open source project. Here are some fun comments. Note some are telephony related.

- - - - -

When Open Source is Free and you insist keeping it that way:

- You support yourself and ask the community for help which sometimes might work

- You have technical expertise with Linux and tools which makes you tick

- You tinker and it takes a long time typically because you need to know how it works

- You prefer command line or free GUIs, which may at times work just fine and dandy

- You refuse to pay for training because you have no life

- You won't pay for echo cancellation thus voice quality likely suffers or you are pure IP and have FIOS or high bandwidth solution; so lucky you with your SIP trunking provider who will probably change a SIP Invite message or something else tomorrow and your line won't work anymore! Tehe...have fun!

- You won't pay for any voice quality so the customer is unhappy - shame on you!

- You don't care about your customers, and if it costs 'anything' you refuse.....

- You are going broke as no customers return

- You buy cheap PSTN clone cards because you don't care to support the project who created the software you use for free

In Summary, you spend all your time on forums of the open source software projects you use. You pay for nothing. You want to make money but refuse to pay for anything or support your favorite project, and your customers are not coming back. Get real. It's just business!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Resellers A-plenty

Last year at this time we were just defining the authorized reseller program. We were gearing up for a whole new world coming from pure open source software with some commercial business to today where we have much more open source Asterisk and exponentially more commercial Asterisk business. This is all good as Digium continues to invest in open source and commercial development.

Well, this year we have implemented what we believe to be a pretty substantial program with solid benefits to the resellers and the best open source telephony products out there.

So being attacked by competition is the sincerest form of flattery - being called out by a competitor on a press release gives us free press. Marketing 101: get your facts straight. Marketing 102: Don't call out your competitors. Especially when the story is not really 100% accurate, at least by company records. Good thing we don't list all the resellers that have signed up with us who currently are selling and phasing out other telephony systems today - from open source competitors to tier one IP Telephony leaders. Good for us. In the past 3 months, we have signed up and qualified over 250 data and voice resellers and continue to work closely with our new distributors to recruit resellers. Revenues reflect the success.

Our goal is to be the most channel friendly company in our segment. Offering best margins, great support, and best-in-class products to enable successful growth.

We love the channel, we love our strategy and we are making huge inroads while we continue to set sales and growth records.

Check us out:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Switchvox SMB 3.5/AA60 Shipped Today

Just another fun day at Digium.

The San Diego team completed the software release and shipped ON TIME and as announced at Digium Asterisk World/VON and VoiceCon two weeks ago. The team really nailed it and busted tail today shipping all they could with pre-installed software, configured systems, and shipped to purchasers.

What is included?

Switchvox SMB 3.5
Switchvox A60 Appliance with Switchvox installed on the appliance (SOHO or SMB 3.5)

Take the worry out of unknown hardware and use the Digium AA60 and AA350 Appliance family for top notch operation and performance!

The web, the collateral, the channel training and slide decks via reseller portal, pricing, performance, you name it and the team finished it and more!

We have gotten far better at announcing and shipping products at Digium.

Check it out at

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Web Site.....Internet Branding

This morning on "Sunday Morning" there was an interesting piece on branding in grocery store aisles. Growing up with parents who owned a similar business I reflected on Digium's user experience for visitors to our web site(s). There are thousands of items in a grocery store. Think about it - when you walk down each aisle...what catches your eye? Do you buy packaging? Color? Labels? Do you care? How easy is it to find what you want? Is it easy to navigate around the store? Do you go back to the same store because you like the experience? Do you not return because of the experience?

These days web sites are for the savvy online shopper, researcher, buyer, reseller - does not matter - the web site must appeal to whoever goes to your site. It must be easy to find, easy to navigate, information must be presented clearly and completely and must be integrated with the overall Internet experience.

At Digium, we have a top notch webmaster for all our sites:

....and our secondary event sites are managed jointly:

....and our acquired Switchvox products: (integration with is in progress)

Digium's web site recently received a 98/100 grade by a partner firm working with us on our Internet Marketing efforts. We receive tremendous credit for our sites, blogs, content, ease of use and we have many programs in motion to make it better and leverage the entire Internet.

The web site is an important element for Digium, the leading IP Telephony open source, viral marketing oriented company who also must monetize the commercial aspects of our business. We take this seriously and have much higher rankings than many traditional players in our market segments for IP Telephony. With our free downloads, value-added products, partner and reseller portals, mailing lists, and overall Asterisk and product information we have many visitors and maintaining the operations is demanding and requires perfection in every possible way. Anyone who knows Digium knows our web sites frequently change and stays as current as possible. Look for more enhancements to the user experience and if you have any comments send a note to the webmaster!

Check it all out at the above web sites.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who is Digium? What is Asterisk?

I get this question a lot!! At the tradeshows and events we always have a collateral piece that explains this. You can find this at: Look on the right side of the screen under "Working at Digium" and read this PDF.

Last week at VoiceCon and Digium Asterisk World at VON, Digium employees shared this information dozens of times as we had lots of interested visitors and meetings.

What is important is to answer some questions I get daily:
{What Business is Digium in??}


1. Digium is in the PCI and PCI express board business for TDM-VoIP gateway cards and voice processing cards. We have been since Q4 2001 and has been a key enabler for Asterisk installations globally. Digium has shipped over 3M TDM ports.

- Digium is heavily invested in this business.
- Digium has re-architected the cards in the past 12 months
- Digium has increased warranties for boards
- Digium as introduced the Exceptional Satisfaction Program that guarantees customer satisfaction - not just for boards, but across product lines including all commercial offerings

FACT: Digium is in the board business!

2. Digium offers the AA50 Asterisk Appliance worldwide. I am asked daily, if Digium is still offering this product. You bet we are. This product is OEM'd by 3Com as the 3Com Asterisk Appliance:
It is also OEM'd by other companies that are not yet announced but shipments have begun. It's got the AsteriskGUI for configuration and fits small offices and branch offices with basic IP telephony requirements very nicely. Now in it's third release of software, we have a solid roadmap of both hardware improvements and software improvements and this product continues.

FACT: Digium sells the AA50 Asterisk Appliance to small businesses

3. Digium offers the Switchvox family of SOHO and SMB software as well as a complete line of hardware appliances including the newly announced AA60, and two other appliances that are rack mounted: There is a Switchvox Free version to download and try that gives you a glimpse into its advanced user interface. SMB provides the most advanced features including mashups for and SugarCRM as well as Googlemaps and user built URL panels that enhance the user experience.

FACT: Digium sells turnkey IP Telephony Solutions built on Switchvox

4. Digium offers the Asterisk Business Edition as a commercial offering toolkit that can be used for building IP PBXs, IVR systems, call canters, etc. Stay tuned for some new announcements around ABE soon! ABE has been around for a few years now and companies that build on ABE wants stable commercially built and tested Asterisk.

FACT: Asterisk Business Edition is a great toolkit choice for many users who build their own solutions and like either the AsteriskGUI or command line option.

5. Digium offers AsteriskNOW 1.0, a free download distribution including Asterisk, Linux and the AsteriskGUI at This is an open source toolkit that can be used by anyone to build solutions or try before buying. Many customers try this and upgrade to Asterisk Business Edition to purchase support and indemnification.

FACT: Digium offers the open source distribution of AsteriskNOW.

So In summary, a Day in the Life of Digium can be any of these! It might be ALL of these!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Switchvox Momentum

Today was quite a day. Costco came in to provide free food - not the 'good for you' kind but it was good with a strong cup of coffee from Aroma's, the coffee shop at Digium.

We had our usual meetings and then we discussed some new programs we are planning and getting ready for promoting Switchvox, an Asterisk-based powerful business phone system. This SOHO and SMB VoIP product family is unreal. It's now our standard business IP PBX at Digium. We each use the Switchboard, which provides an interface directly to and Googlemaps, so when a call comes in thats in my data base it brings up their record plus places a pin on Google maps from caller id location. Check it out - here are some screenshots: here is a presence based receptionist screen: And many user and admin screens are located at this URL.

There is also a free version to try - enjoy:

This new article talks about an Asterisk-based PBX, but this customer is talking about his Switchvox system:

Enjoy reading the information at the above links. This system deserves your attention. Powerful, advanced web 2.0 mashups, and a great business phone system based on Asterisk and IP.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Calling All Asterisk Appliances

It is pretty amazing how many people and companies have created Asterisk-based appliances since Digium created the Asterisk Appliance, currently named the AA50. The first of many Digium appliances, some solid state and some purpose-built server appliances, the AA50 set the bar in which everyone chases. Some are bigger, some are smaller, some have analog ports for gateway functionality to PSTNs and some are pure IP. It does not matter what they have but the SMB consumer gains choices based on open source Asterisk.

As the global leader in open source telephony, we pave the way for others to follow and proliferate the market along with Digium allowing customers freedom of choice.

A recent Network World blog written by Matthew Nickasch and entitled, "Appliances Run Amok" ( explored the Appliance concept. Check out this highly electrified thread.

Back from Vacation

Hello all, it's been a while as I took some time in Thailand on vacation before getting back into it all. You may have seen some blog action this week and I will address that in a follow-on piece. If you've never been to Thailand, you're missing some very interesting experiences:

- great people
- great hosts
- outstanding golf
- food out of this word!
- terrific real estate

In Udon Thani near the Laos border, seen with wife and friends (I have the coffee in hand) we found beer, ice cream and coffee. The trip was terrific. Udon, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai were on the agenda and we visited the Grand Palace, the Summer Palace, many shopping places where you can also see the Thai people make silver, lacquerware, jewelry, silk and several things. A group of over 20 of us celebrated our friend's 40th wedding anniversary. The top picture is the scene of the anniversary party at our friends' village. Once in a lifetime trip!

Getting back this week was great and we are now readying Digium Asterisk World at VON in San Jose and VoiceCon in Orlando.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Quite a Week thanks to Google

As I sit here watching the Patriots-Chargers game, I reflect this past week. I can tell you I am proud to be part of the Digium executive team. We had the Google AdWord debacle this week. Read more at If you are on the asterisk-biz mailing list you'd have seen the unforeseen issues caused by the approach Digium took that had to be changed a day or two later. Danny Windham, our CEO, published our relaxed policy Friday night and Saturday I posted a FAQ for further details and clarification of the most anticipated questions.

Our listening to the Asterisk community combined with our sense of urgency to do the right thing makes Digium the leader it is in both open source and VoIP.

This past week has got me thinking just how powerful Google has become. Although many of us use Google for searches every day, and use Google for marketing campaigns this has really shown us how much power has moved to Google's business model. We learned how effective their AdWords can be and how ineffective their internal process is to handle it. The reason why? Because their is so much going on with these types of situations everywhere. That is why they could not commit to turn-around time even though they say they understand our sense of urgency. Imagine how much money they actually make on AdWords. We knew there was a lot of business use/and misuse or our marks, but were truly blown away at the end of the day how many folks purchased AdWords.

Does this Google power bother anyone? If businesses go to Google to become their corporate email/calendaring system, what happens when you have a problem, will this also be ineffective? It certainly brings up a comparison of the effectiveness of customer support for Google's good products. Will it always be slow support and/or lack of sense of urgency for business? I don't know yet. But I would be concerned. We will see how fast they follow through with our current request. I will keep you all updated here as many of us do care. Maybe tomorrow it's fixed. Maybe next week. Who knows.

This is just food for thought. Nothing more, nothing less, but since we learned from this why not more of us learn from it. Happy surfing and will see you at IT Expo this week. Know what time it is? Patriots 14, Chargers 6.

Monday, January 14, 2008

IT Expo in Miami, FL

We are getting ready to go to IT Expo. It's been relatively easy this time around as we have a small group attending and working our booth; our goals are to continue to show how great Switchvox SOHO and SMB solutions are and we will have the AA50 Asterisk Appliance to show those who like this form factor in small business and remote office situations.

We will show off some new products so stop by and visit us.

Digium and 3Com are on a panel together Wednesday 1/25 at 11:00 AM to update the audience on the state of open source; the presentation will show the "big picture" of complete open source infrastructure solutions and Asterisk IP Telephony as the voice application. It will be informative.

Miami is also a lot warmer than the Northeast. Of course parts of the NE are hot - especially New England where the Patriots are blazing new trails in uncharted territory - 17 and 0 and counting; to go for yet another record!

Many of us watched the entertaining NFL playoffs this past weekend. Yes, there are football fans aplenty in Huntsville. Now we have an AFC Championship game between the Pats (my hometown) and San Diego (Switchvox's home)! No one seemed to care about the Packers and Giants. Maybe I just don't see it.

Check our corporate blog this week for new product information.