Many of you have witnessed me debating Mark Spencer of Digium onstage at ITEXPOs over the years. It's always a fun debate/discussion and from what the audience shares with me, our sessions are very educational. Amazingly, Mark launched Asterisk, the open-source PBX but that wasn't his initial intent. He started his company to support Linux systems. He wasn't planning on going down the telephony or VoIP path from the start but as he was looking for a new phone system for his office, he couldn't find one that was cost-effective. He decided to build one himself and the rest is history.
Commercial companies generally bash open-source as these products in any market reduce margins for commercial players. Of course open-source isn't for everyone and not every company who goes down the open source path stays true to this route. Some decide to switch to commercial software later for a variety of reasons.
For this reason it is big news that Aspect, a leader in ACDs decided to test interoperability between their Uniphi suite and Asterisk over SIP. Aspect has always been ahead of the technology curve when it comes to ACDs. They embraced VoIP early on and are now embracing open-source.
Aspect execs were very candid with me. They told me their customers are looking for this sort of connectivity. They believe smaller companies would be more likely than large to tinker with open-source but in the end as they point out, it is up to the customer to decide what they want.
In my candid conversations, I could read on the faces of Aspect execs, "Did we let the genie out of the bottle?" I too wonder about this. Is open source connectivity a good thing or bad when you have to answer to shareholders? In the long run will Aspect sell more products or less? Will open source fever sweep the contact center software community now that Aspect has legitimized Asterisk in the contact center?
We will have to see how this plays out but in the mean time I personally commend Aspect for taking this leap to bridge the world of VoIP, open source and contact centers.