I recently had the opportunity to ask Patrick Young of Arlinx about the company’s customer base, its IP communications strategy and the direction his company is taking.
The Arlinx IP Elite Security and Media Processing Platforms provide opportunities for developers, integrators, and resellers to offer an alternative to mainstream x86 appliances.
To learn more about the company, read this article published on TMCnet from earlier this year.
RT: Please outline your new corporate initiatives.
PY: Our initiative is to produce an open IP communications application and specific hardware platform with strong authentication, encryption acceleration, a voice optimized media processor and very high energy efficiency. With open hardware API and Linux, this platform is very flexible and adaptable to evolving standards.
RT: How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?
PY: As a telecom manufacturer we have found many deficiencies in using a standard x86 PC as an IP PBX. We are addressing these deficiencies by producing an IP PBX platform specifically designed for the IP communications market. By using a Linux open hardware platform and open source, it is much easier to manage than a proprietary solution and has the necessary flexibility to adapt to a rapidly evolving market. The management functions are standardized and expansion though high speed USB 2.0 ports, PCI, and a local bus expansion connector with an open API. A proprietary solution lacks all these advantages.
RT: How has SIP changed communications?
PY: SIP is still an evolving standard that is much too vague and has led to products with interoperability and security issues. In its attempt to address a large variety of IP communication applications, it has grown out of control at the risk of not being able to create a workable standard. The SIP RFC 3261 document uses the word “should” 344 times and the word “may” 381 times. It has become more of a guideline than a standard allowing too many different interpretations and product implementations that are not interoperable.
RT: What is the biggest request coming from your customer base?
PY: Support for open source communications and AAA server software, with Asterisk and freeRADIUS being the top open source applications requested. The high energy efficiency (six Watts) is popular with data centers and managed service providers such as hosted PBXs because of the greatly reduced cost for battery backup.
RT: How are you answering their demands?
PY: We have designed, from the ground up, an application-specific platform for open source IP communication and security products.
RT: What do you think the future of the market is?
PY: Eventually the issues of poor security, interoperability, and reliable IP bandwidth in IP communications will be resolved and the market will explode. Currently it is too much of a security risk to connect a PBX to the Internet. Until the security risks are brought under control, TDM will continue to be the wise choice for trunking. VoIP is not the money saver as it was originally touted. Reliable Internet bandwidth with guarantied availability, low latency and reliable real time packet delivery is still very expensive.
RT: How does the growth rate in the U.S. compare to the rest of the world?
PY: The U.S. has a very reliable and affordable TDM network. Other countries have more incentive to switch to open IP communications especially where there is low quality TDM networks and monopolistic pricing.
RT: What do you think of Google and Apple entering the telecom market?
PY: Apple has an amazing ability to create products that can quickly dominate a fairly mature market and is a force to be watched; although it is unlikely they will step out of consumer electronics and enter enterprise applications or IP communications. Google has too much money, immature management, and too much pressure from stockholders which sets them up for failure in the new markets they tend to dabble in. Google needs to understand they are in the advertising business not sales or product development.
RT: How about Microsoft?
PY: Microsoft rarely produces technological innovation. They have a track record of premature, unreliable and insecure product releases. In communications Microsoft has previously left the telecom industry in a quandary with their poor implementation and then abandonment of TAPI. Do you really want to bet your future with a company that lacks ethics, is notorious for lack of security, and could with a single decision wipe out your company?
RT: How will wireless technologies change our market?
PY: Wireless has many limiting factors and I don’t see it having a major impact on IP telephony. There is limited airspace bandwidth which caps its ability to expand. Wireless will never be impervious to interference which limits reliability and security. If you become dependent on wireless technology it would be very easy to take you to your knees by launching a denial of service attack by blasting you with RF interference.
RT: How will communications evolve over the next five years?
PY: Slowly. Traditionally the telecom industry has moved very slowly with the market dominated by large corporations which are very slow to adapt to new technology. The lack of interoperable standards will impede the market from evolving and adopting VoIP industry wide. Security vulnerabilities must be addressed and remedied, which will be another slow process.
RT: What sorts of things will we be hearing about during your presentation at ITEXPO?
PY: The large number and diverse nature of VoIP vulnerabilities, and how most of these vulnerabilities can ruin careers and put enterprises at great risk.
RT: Why is your presentation a “Can’t Miss?”
PY: It is crucial that anyone involved in VoIP — product developers, integrators, resellers, and users —be wary of VoIP vulnerabilities. Most businesses are unaware of the plethora of VoIP vulnerabilities they face. Awareness is the first step necessary to implementing a defense to minimize the risk associated with VoIP deployment. One security mistake in deployment can demolish a business with financial loss from regulatory penalties, civil damages, and breach of customer trust.
RT: What do you want the industry to know about your company?
PY: We have the best of breed IP communications platform designed by the brightest engineers. The platform has certified bulletproof cryptographic storage supporting strong multi-factor authentication, encryption acceleration and the lowest total cost of ownership. Ultra high reliability, no moving parts, low heat generation, long life cycle, low maintenance, and phenomenal performance per watt. Our motherboard is supplied by only six watts from a single 5VDC power source. It will easily pay for itself in saving though greatly reduced cost of electricity, battery backup, air conditioning, and eliminating the need for expensive cooled server racks and cabinets.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction we will see in five years.
PY: Most businesses will be overwhelmed and unable to protect themselves against Internet security threats. Viruses will become so advanced that current anti-virus methods will be obsolete. It will be required that Internet Service Providers take on the role of IP security. This will be imposed either by customer requirement or government regulation.