Another IP-PBX company bites the dust?

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Another IP-PBX company bites the dust?

After the news that Zultsys was going out of business, only to hear that they are being resurrected, word from two sources is that a well-known IP-PBX company may be on its last legs. I don't want to disclose who it is at this point without some further investigation. No point causing a company harm from what is just rumor at this point, but I will keep you posted.

This got me thinking though. What happened to the days when there were dozens of PBX manufacturers? Sure there are still many around, but many are hurting, and some have gone belly-up, such as Comdial, Praxon, and others. You have inexpensive open-source IP-PBXs such as as Pingtel and Asterisk that are just as feature-rich as the "big boys" (Nortel, Toshiba, Avaya, Cisco) at 1/8th the cost or less. How can a large company with hundreds of employees and with vastly larger overhead compete with a small nimble company like Digium, the founder of the Asterisk open-source movement?

Will open-source communications systems inevitably kill the major PBX manufacturers? Hard to say, but open-source sure didn't do SCO UNIX any favors when the "free" Linux O/S came on the scene. The days of proprietary communications are over, which also means more competition and smaller margins. In telecom it's SIP that is opening the doors for small start-ups to innovate without being blocked by proprietary and predatory tactics. Only the nimble with the best features, best value, best marketing, and best support will survive the long haul.

On a related note I recently discovered PostPath, a Microsoft Exchange Server alternative, which is the first to implement Exchange network protocols on a Linux email server and the first to let you use your existing Outlook clients with no disruption. According to this article, benefits of selecting the PostPath Server include avoiding vendor lock-in, saving money, increasing performance by 5x, improving resilience, and increasing flexibility and innovation. According to the article, by moving to PostPath you can slash software, storage and infrastructure costs by 75%. We have Exchange Server at TMC and have experienced our share of Exchange Server failures resulting in email loss. Disaster recovery for Exchange Server is just that - a disaster. We've had some outages that took 2 days to entirely fix. Postpath, while not open-source or free, is a Linux-based solution that is less expensive and they claim more reliable with quicker disaster recovery.

Now if only I could have a 100% open-source, IP-PBX, with Exchange Server functionality, built-in web server, Jabber/IM server, collaboration capabilities, mobile phone email synching (e.g. Blackberry), and just about any other communications method, all on a turn-key platform with each component interoperating/integrating - then life would be good.

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