Cloud PBXes: Can Digium Asterisk Answer the Call?
Digium Asterisk, the open source IP PBX and potential Microsoft Lync competitor, will make cloud services and managed services noise in October. That’s good news for channel partners, many of whom are exploring hosted PBX services and collaboration services for customers.
Talkin’ Cloud first explored hosted Asterisk opportunities in January 2011. Since that time, I think Digium has been too quiet about its cloud and managed services strategies. The company has built a loyal, profitable following in the IT channel. But most partner discussions involve on-premises phone deployments.
Sort of like Linux disrupting Unix, Asterisk has gradually disrupted some legacy on-premise PBX platforms. But will that Asterisk momentum extend to the cloud? We could get some answers during Astricon, the Asterisk User Conference and Expo (Oct.23-25, Atlanta, Ga.). The conference will include sessions that cover:
- Managed services for Asterisk-based phone systems. This will likely involve MSPs remotely managing on-premises PBXes, but at least it broaches the monthly service fee model with customers.
- How Digium will help partners and customers to succeed in a world with multiple clouds.
- Innovations with Open Data and Open AP.
- Converging Asterisk with virtualization and SAN options.
- Also, watch for AstriDevCon within the same conference. That track could appeal to software developers — including cloud developers.
During the first half of 2012, I think Digium spent considerable time extending it reach from PBXes out to desktop phones and handsets. Digium now builds its own branded phones, offering VARs and MSPs complete phone systems. The next logical step has to be service provider partner strategies — empowering hosting providers to offer Asterisk services. (That’s just my guess.)
Still, rivals aren’t standing still. Many cable companies now promote hosted PBX services to their end customers. And Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to transform Lync — it’s fast-growing collaboration platform — into a full-blown PBX that lives in the Office 365 cloud.
Can Digium — and its channel partners — offer customers a viable cloud alternative? We’ll search for clues at AstriCon (or perhaps even sooner…)