Asterisk: Digium Evaluates Hosted PBX and Cloud Strategy

April 27, 2011

3 Min Read
Asterisk: Digium Evaluates Hosted PBX and Cloud Strategy

By samdizzy

Diguim, which promotes the Asterisk open source IP PBX, continues to closely monitor the cloud computing market. Although Digium does not plan to launch its own, self-branded PBX cloud, CEO Danny Windham has not ruled out that type of move down the road. Also, Digium has adjusted its strategy for AsteriskExchange — an online marketplace that promotes Asterisk partner solutions.

Earlier today, Windham described numerous Digium business milestones — most of the Q1 highlights involved Switchvox sales and channel partner recruitment (more details will surface April 28 on TalkinCloud’s sister site, The VAR Guy).

But for the sake of this blog entry let’s focus on the cloud and AsteriskExchange.

Digium Studies the Cloud

So far, Digium has deferred hosted PBX and cloud opportunities to a range of channel partners and service providers. The ecosystem also includes MSPs that offer SwitchVox-related virtualization and managed services, Windham noted.

I asked Windham if Digium had specific plans to launch a Digium-branded Asterisk cloud. Windham’s response: Most Asterisk engagements remain on-premise because of latency, quality of service and other voice-related customer considerations. But Windham does see a growing demand for Asterisk in the cloud, a market that partners currently serve.

“There are a host of Asterisk-based [cloud] solutions out there,” said Windham. “Our belief is the cloud will play an important role in SMB access to communications services,”  though he sees that as a longer-term reality rather than a near-term urgent priority. “We’re assessing what role a potential Digium branded solution might play at some point. You may expect something from Digium and some point but there are no plans at this point.”

Reality Check

Windham’s statement may read a bit like a mixed message. But I think Windham’s message is clear: Near term, Digium has no intention of competing with hosted PBX providers. But long term, Windham won’t rule out such a move based on how the market for cloud-based PBXes evolves.

No doubt, potential rivals are jumping into the hosted PBX market. Among the examples:

Still, plenty of VARs and MSPs say they are taking a slow approach to hosted PBX services — for the very reasons Windham mentioned.

Asterisk Products

Meanwhile, Digium has adjusted its strategy for AsteriskExchange, an online marketplace that allows channel partners and customers to find Asterisk-centric solutions. The exchange, launched last year, started out as a revenue-generating opportunity for Digium. But in Q1 2011, AsteriskExchange emerged as much more of a community building site.

The reason: Some small Asterisk partners couldn’t afford to list their products on the Exchange. In response, Digium introduced a promotion that offered free listings on the Exchange. Overall the exchange has “done reasonably well in our view,” said Windham. “But we see it more as an ecosystem growth tool rather than a revenue tool for us.”

Indeed, the exchange has grown to roughly 120 company listings, with 15 new partners surfacing in Q1 2011. Also, partners have started adding SwitchVox applications to the exchange.

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