Managed VoIP Services Shifting to Open Source

If you're a managed service provider mulling your VoIP options, keep this in mind: A growing number of customers -- especially in Europe -- are embracing IP phone systems that leverage open source and Asterisk. In fact, the European market for open source VoIP is growing 70 percent annually, according to one market researcher. Here's the scoop.

I don't want to paint open source as a "perfect" solution to your managed telephony strategy. Plenty of VARs and service providers have warned me that open source phone systems aren't ready for prime time. But I believe that's starting to change, and a recent survey fielded by Frost & Sullivan reinforces my belief.

Frost & Sullivan says the cost of an open source telephony 'line' can be up to 40 per cent less than an averagely priced IP PBX/Communication Manager. Total cost of ownership (TCO) comparison indicates a similar picture and the cost benefits are far greater in a call centre environment and in settings where the proportion of 'professional services fee' is higher, the research firm says.

But this is more than a price discussion. With solutions like Asterisk -- the open source IP PBX -- managed service providers have access to source code, which makes it relatively to add new features and functions to a VoIP system.

And Digium, the leading provider of Asterisk-based solutons, is going global through new distribution agreements and relationships with more than 250 partners.

The European open source telephony market shipped nearly 740,000 lines in 2008. I believe that's a tiny slice of the overall market today (I don't have overall numbers handy), but open source shipments in Europe should have a 71.1 percent compound annual growth rate from 2008 to 2013, Frost & Sullivan predicts.

Now, here's the line in the report that caught my eye:

"The anticipated entry of carriers is likely to be a growth trigger for the market in the future," says Frost & Sullivan. "Either as a reseller or a hosted/managed service provider, carrier activity is expected to affect market growth rates from 2011."
If you're an MSP in the IP telephony space, I would spend considerable time learning more about Asterisk.
TAGS: Sales
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