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Can Digium Succeed Where Red Hat Failed?

The VAR Guy

February 15, 2010

It has been about a month since Digium launched the Asterisk Exchange — an online marketplace to help VARs and customers piece together telephony solutions based upon the open source IP PBX. It’s an intriguing concept — similar to Red Hat’s failed Red Hat Exchange efforts. So can Digium succeed where Red Hat failed? Yes. Here’s why.

First, a little background. Red Hat launched the Red Hat Exchange in May 2007. Initially, the online exchange offered products and services from such open source companies as Alfresco, EnterpriseDB, MySQL, Pentaho, SugarCRM and Zimbra. Fast forward to January 2010, and The VAR Guy noticed Red Hat Exchange was offline. Red Hat has since confirmed that it shut down the exchange.

What lessons can Digium’s Asterisk Exchange, launched in January 2010, learn from the failed Red Hat Exchange? For starters: Start small. At first glance, Red Hat was wise to announce big-name members of the Red Hat Exchange. Within open source circles, companies like Alfresco, MySQL and SugarCRM were well-known when Red Hat Exchange launched.

But ironically, the popularity of those applications also hurt Red Hat Exchange. For instance: VARs and customers knew they could go directly to MySQL for downloads and support, rather than the Red Hat Exchange. It was as if Red Hat was trying to build a big online mall at a time when individual online stores (Alfresco, MySQL, SugarCRM, EnterpriseDB, Pentaho, Zimbra) were doing fine on their own.

The Digium Difference

In stark contrast, customers and solutions providers aren’t as familiar with the current Asterisk ecosystem of hardware,  software and product suppliers. Sure, folks know Digum makes SwitchVox. But plenty of people don’t know which IP phones, network components, and applications work with Asterisk.

That’s where the Asterisk Exchange comes into the picture. It provides a single destination for potentially thousands of products that partners and customers might otherwise struggle to find on their own.

Assuming Digium has the right financial model for Asterisk Exchange, it should succeed. The VAR Guy will be sure to take a closer look at that financial model in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, Digium CEO Danny Windham offered his views on Asterisk Exchange back in January. Here’s a look:

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