Today, at ITEXPO, Signate is announcing SigPRO. SigPRO is a a hosted telephony system for telephone service providers with 5,000 to 500,000 customer extensions that Signate claims "sets a new price/performance standard".
I have heard various issues surrounding scalability issues when it comes to the Linux-based Asterisk IP-PBX solution, so I contacted one of my sources and asked about Signate's scalability claims. My source responded, "Signate is in for a shock when they really try to scale this stuff. They are using GPL'd code from Asterisk, and have not licenced the code. This means that they are likely not changing core Asterisk source code to implement scale. This means they are in for a bit of a surprise when they actually start getting hundreds, let alone hundreds of thousands concurrent users on one box."
I pointed out to my source how Signate was achieving scalability by showing him a portion of their news release: "SigPRO achieves further efficiencies because it works in concert with Signate’s Telephony Server 5000 softswitches, which provide better price/performance than PC-based or proprietary switches. In an installation, the SigPRO server provides applications, services, and feature-functionality. Call routing, trunking, translations, and most call-control/management services are provided by Signate's Telephony Server 5000 softswitches. Softswitches are load balanced and deployed in an n+1 configuration for redundancy."
He replied to this by saying, "It takes significant engineering to truly achieve scale, not just shoving it on a box with more horsepower. Under the GNU-GPL of Asterisk, any changes to the source code must be given back to the community. Therein lies the rub, and therein lies Digium's best business model yet."
He then theorized that Signate is using one Asterisk box for SIP routing, this is the "softswitch box", and another Asterisk box for their PBX feature-set, etc. Thus, they may achieving some scalability by distributing the load across multiple servers. The problem is that they would need to actually get into that source code and make significant changes, and hence make community contributions, so long as they are using the GPL'd version of Asterisk.
How Signate achieves their scalability without running afoul of the GPL is something I will be sure to investigate at ITEXPO and report back here. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, here is the release which will go out on the newswires in a few hours...
Signate Announces SigPRO Hosted Telephony Application That Sets New Price Performance Standard
Signate, the leading provider of VoIP telephony solutions based on industry standard hardware and open source software, today announced the production release of SigPRO, its state-of-the-art hosted telephony system for telephone service providers with 5,000 to 500,000 customer extensions. Targeted at providers who are moving into the IP voice market, SigPRO enables providers to increase revenue, reduce expenses and deliver feature-rich solutions to individual consumers, small businesses, and large enterprises.
"Signate's SigPRO is enabling our market entry with a capital investment of less than $5 per potential customer," said Jason Cohen, CEO of FutureLink, a service provider based in Coram, New York. "That means we can offer very competitive prices and richer service offerings than TDM-based carriers at the same time," he said.
"Until SigPRO, hosted systems for small and medium-sized service providers have either been prohibitively expensive or limited by low calling capacities and minimal feature sets," said William Boehlke, CEO of Signate. "SigPRO enables a new generation of nimbler IP carriers to deliver services to new markets, such as business PBX replacement," he said, "with the same features as the very best PBXs but without the capital investment."
SigPRO is both feature-rich and cost-effective because it sits atop a foundation of industry standards such as SIP and open source components like Linux, Apache, MySQL, php, SIP Express Router and Asterisk.
SigPRO achieves further efficiencies because it works in concert with Signate’s Telephony Server 5000 softswitches, which provide better price/performance than PC-based or proprietary switches. In an installation, the SigPRO server provides applications, services, and feature-functionality. Call routing, trunking, translations, and most call-control/management services are provided by Signate's Telephony Server 5000 softswitches. Softswitches are load balanced and deployed in an n+1 configuration for redundancy.
Up to eight Telephony Server 5000 softswitches may be deployed in a stack with a call set-up capacity of up to 350 calls per second on seven servers. The eighth server is back-up capacity should one of the active servers fail.
SigPRO includes one interface to a credit card provider and templates for popular customer premise devices such as Linksys adapters and Cisco and Polycom SIP telephones. Customer detail records at the system, reseller, enterprise and consumer levels may be interfaced to external billing systems.
Functionality is delivered through five web browser interfaces that can be branded with reseller or enterprise customer logos and colors.
SigPRO's Administration interface provides access control, DID inventory management, call rating, customer premise device management, and other administrative features.
Service provider contact centers and resellers manage customer care through SigPRO's ITSP interface. Each reseller has its own interface where the reseller services its own customers independently of other resellers, under parameters set by the service provider for that reseller.
Each business customer uses a SigPRO Enterprise panel to manage their own extensions, within the limits of the service plan they have contracted for.
From the Enterprise panel, customers can configure business features such as:
- Auto Attendant / IVR – Enterprises manage inbound calls and deliver them to the intended destination through interactions that can include recorded answers, extension dialing, and time of day pathing
- Conferencing – Conferencing lets enterprises coordinate dispersed teams
- Complex IVR – Enterprises can quickly build their own voice response systems that take DTMF tones or record responses
- The Self-Service interface lets consumers sign themselves up for service without human intervention. SigPRO automatically provisions their customer premise device and charges their credit card to begin service. Each reseller has its own unique Self-Service interface.
The SigPRO user panel gives users control over their own telephone service functions such as:
- Follow Me – Users can set the system to ring numbers such as mobile or home phones in sequence when someone calls their desk phone, so they never miss an important call
- Call blocking and Screening – Each user decides who reaches them and when
- Email Integration – Users easily integrate voicemail with their Microsoft Outlook mailbox
- Voice Messaging – Feature-rich voice messaging provides users with the flexibility to use and manage their messaging service from anywhere
Service and Support
SigPRO is offered with 24/7 technical support 365 days a year by Signate engineers in the U.K., U.S. and New Zealand. On site hardware service is provided by the global SGI support organization. Four hour and 30 minute service level agreements are optional.
Pricing and Availability
A redundant calling configuration for 1,000 simultaneous SIP calls begins at $125,000. That configuration includes a SigPRO server and two Signate Telephony Server 5000 softswitches.
An English language North American version of SigPRO is available immediately. An English version with support for currencies other than dollars will be available in the second quarter of 2006. User interfaces for Spanish and other languages will be available in the second half of 2006.
Signate is a leading global provider of design, installation, configuration, training and management services for open source VoIP telephony systems. For more information, visit Signate at www.signate.com