The solution, which is based on the open source FreeSWITCH project, offers a wide range of PBX functionality controlled via a Web-based user interface. Four different models are available, with prices starting at $1,999, and with no per-user, per-phone, or per-feature pricing.
Sean Heiney, the company’s director of new product initiatives, says Barracuda chose the FreeSWITCH platform after considering a number of different options, including commercial as well as open-source solutions. “In FreeSWITCH, we found a very dedicated team that had an extremely stable and feature-complete, carrier-grade product that we knew we would be able to use,” he says.
And Barracuda, Heiney says, has a history of being an open-source proponent. “We use a variety of open-source technologies across our product line, and there’s a reason why: The open-source community tends to develop some of the best products in the market, and FreeSWITCH is no exception,” he says. “They have a large and growing community that’s contributed some very innovative, secure, and scalable telephony platforms to build on.”
One of the CudaTel Communication Server’s key strengths, Heiney says, lies in its user interface. “We integrate automatically with things like Active Directory, Novell eDirectory and other LDAP directories,” he says. “And to set up the system, you don’t have to be a telephony expert: We’ve removed a lot of the confusing terminology, the confusing settings, and we’ve automated the whole process – so setting up a consumer router takes about the same technical sophistication as it does to deploy an enterprise-class phone system with CudaTel.”
The fact that CudaTel doesn’t apply per-user pricing, Heiney says, is another key asset. “There’s no per-user or per-feature fees at all,” he says. “The [boxes] are rated on the capacity we expect them to be able to serve… but there’s no hard set limits in the box: that’s just where we expect it to be able to perform.”
Heiney says the company’s larger aim is to move towards a new way of looking at voice. “We see a lot of legacy incumbents that have been charging a lot, including per-user licensing, for a large number of years – and selling systems to phone guys, where we see the market moving to more of an IT type position,” he says.
The point, he says, is that VoIP simply needs to be demystified. “It’s just IT traffic,” Heiney says. “It’s no longer complex – different wiring schematics, fine tuning settings to interface with the phone company – we’ve removed a lot of those complexities.”
What’s more, Heiney says, the current CudaTel product is just the beginning. “Our v1 product includes the features that everybody needs – and I think you’ll see, as the product evolves, some very innovative and new features that aren’t in any other products in the marketplace,” he says. “But right now we’re just attacking what’s out there, and we’ve got a great product that scales up to an enterprise class phone system.”
Barracuda Networks launched the CudaTel brand, Heiney says, in response to the product’s unique requirements. “We were looking at… a different certification process for our resellers, being that voice is handled a little bit different than IT security products… so we felt that it made the most sense to launch a sister brand to allow us to change the cookie-cutter model that we use across the product line,” he says.
As company spokesperson Kylie Heintz explains, Barracuda Networks’ current product line is marketed through a channel of several thousand partners worldwide. “Most of those partners are set up to sell security products, they’re set up to sell storage products, and they’re very well versed in those types of technologies – whereas VoIP isn’t necessarily an area that the partners we have right now might be selling,” she says. “So with the CudaTel brand, we will be working with some of our existing partners to get them up to speed and ready to sell those products, but at the same time branching out to other partners.”
And in terms of the market in general, Heiney is not shy about expressing the company’s intentions. “We’re going after the incumbents, the guys that have been price-gouging for years, the guys that make technically complex products,” he says. “And we’re going to show people that you don’t need a telephony specialist to come and set it up for a month, and pay $300,000 for your 100-person company’s phone system.”