SIPfoundry, Pingtel Up the Stakes for IP-PBX

Pingtel
Corporation
today announced a major push in Europe for its open-source IP-PBX
product SIPxchange. Pingtel’s
open-source IP-PBX efforts
are seen as a good thing for the open-source
VoIP industry, according to competitor Digium (see below).

SIPxchange is an open-source application developed via SIPfoundry,
a
not-for-profit organization. Pingtel is a sponsor of the organization
and has taken up SIPxchange as its own, offering solutions and support to customers
in North America, and, starting today, Europe as well. The European expansion
is being channeled through a series of VARs that Pingtel has brought into the
fold.

Al Brisard, VP of marketing at Pingtel explained that Pingtel has been actively
creating its channel program since it announced its open-source model in 2004.

“We’ve been fortunate that Pingtel’s reputation of delivering enterprise-grade
solutions was well established prior to our moving to the open-source model,
so there was an inherent trust in the marketplace for the company,” Brisard
told Enterprise VoIPplanet.com. He added that to date, the channel has been
developed by both the company’s outreach effort and inbound inquiry from leading
system integrators and resellers in Europe.

“In many ways, Europe is much further down the path of adopting open-source
technologies, so our solution is a natural fit for many channel partners,” Brisard
said. “We’ve also had tremendous interest from traditional IT resellers that
see the economic benefits of open-source VoIP in terms of providing real cost
benefits to their customers.”

New support tools
SIPfoundry today announced a pair of new SIP software tools that expand its
open-source VoIP offerings. The repro proxy server is a SIP proxy server and
registrar intended for telecommunications carriers. Repro proxy is now in alpha
but offers the promise of eventually being able to support million of users
and be easily integrated and managed by existing carrier back office systems
according to SIPfoundy.

The second solution officially announced today by SIPfoundry is sipXtapi, a
multi-platform (Windows and Linux) SDK and a SIP user agent that is intended
to simplify softphone development.

Brisard expects that both of the newly announced SIPfoundry products will play
a role in Pingtel’s commercial portfolio over time.

“The sipXtapi user agent solution will most likely come to market first, as
our primary market is enterprise, but with the hosted voice market picking up
steam, we expect to have a solution for this market when the time is right,”
Brisard said.

Open-source trail-blazer
Pingtel and SIPfoundry are of course not the only open-source VoIP IP-PBXs in
the marketplace. The Asterisk project and its corporate sponsor Digium predate
Pingtel’s open-source adoption. In fact according to Mark Spencer, president
of Digium and founder of the Asterisk project, he tried to get Pingtel to support
open-source VoIP and use Asterisk, several years ago, which didn’t happen.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Spencer told EnterpriseVoIPplanet.com.
“In a way it’s very reassuring to have Pingtel come aboard and go with the whole
open-source thing.”

“Having another company step in and say we think this is a viable business
model helps us out because it makes everything a lot more appealing to people
in that they look at it and see that there is not just one company, there’s
more than one,” Spencer added. “It adds a certain credibility to the industry.”

Different strokes
That said, there are significant differences between Pingtel’s offering
and Digium/Asterisk. In Spencer’s view, SIPfoundry regards SIP as the be-all
and end-all of Internet telephony, which is not the Asterisk view. Asterisk
supports a number of IP telephony protocols, including SIP.

“SIP is certainly the leading open-source VoIP protocol today, I’m just not
convinced that there’ll only be one,” Spencer said. “I think that there’ll be
more than one, because in different situations there are different protocols
which are better suited for addressing those needs.”

Pingtel’s Brisard acknowledged that at some level, certain customers that
are looking at SIPxchange also look at Asterisk. Brisard noted that being 100
percent SIP is a good thing as it means it can be used with any other SIP compliant
device or application. He also cited Pingtel’s robust professional services
and customer support organization as a differentiator.

Ultimately though, Asterisk is not necessarily Pingtel’s true competition.

“We believe both [Asterisk and Pingte] are good for the market and provide
a needed jolt to the incumbent VoIP equipment vendors who Pingtel views as the
true competition,” Brisard said.

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