Fonality Sends Open Source Relief to US Gulf Coast
Fonality, which specializes in open source phone systems, is answering the U.S. Gulf Coast’s call for help following Hurricane Ike. Fonality CEO Chris Lyman (pictured) had a rather intriguing disaster recovery idea following a chat with The VAR Guy. Here’s the scoop.
On Sept. 16, The VAR Guy and Fonality’s Lyman were discussing Ike’s business impact across the Gulf Coast. By Sept. 17, Lyman was back online with a special offer. In an email to The VAR Guy, Lyman wrote:
“My talk with you spurned a cool idea. I decided to provide a free replacement server for all of our customers affected by Ike. We are sending them free servers, free shipping, and spending a free hour sending their backup configuration from our data center to their new onsite server. Cool, eh?”
Yes. Very cool, Chris. The VAR Guy doesn’t know how many free servers Fonality will need to ship. But it’s a refreshing approach to business recovery.
As regular readers of this blog know, Fonality got its start leveraging the Asterisk open source PBX. But Fonality’s own developers have written thousands of lines of enhanced code, meaning that Fonality’s performance is less and less related to Asterisk, and more and more tied to Fonality’s own R&D.
As Fonality helps its Gulf Coast business customers regain their dial-tones, Lyman is quick to articulate how a HybridHosted business model can speed business recovery efforts.
“Our HybridHosted keeps a copy of our customers phone configuration at our data center. This means that each time they make a change to their local Fonality phone system (like adding an extension or changing their auto attendant) we store it in our remote data center.
This makes disaster recovery for a scenario like Hurricane Ike a breeze. We simply send the customer a brand new server with their last configuration pre-loaded onto it. All they have to do is plug it in and then re-record their personal greetings (we don’t backup any audio files in order to respect privacy of our customers).”
Sounds simple enough. But there’s another twist. In addition to disrupting the traditional PBX market, Lyman insists Fonality can increasingly disrupt IP PBXes from Avaya, Cisco and Nortel.
In fact, Lyman is more than happy to take a jab at those rivals.
The [Fonality] solution lives at the customer premise but we “partially hosted” key pieces of it for redundancy. As I am sure you are aware, most people don’t back up their data let alone their phone system. And, because all the big iron dinosaurs like Cisco, Nortel, and Avaya (and even the new players like Microsoft) are 100% premise-based they don’t have the ability to replace your phone system in the event of a disaster.
Clearly, Lyman has talent: He’s driven to help customers across the Gulf Coast, but he’s happy to throw rivals under the bus during the road trip.