Clients are increasingly expecting more from their phone systems, and this complexity is ushering in the end of open source solutions (OSS).
Phone calls in our organisation integrate with our ticketing and call flow systems, and our clients integrate our unified communications system with Salesforce, Zendesk and Microsoft applications.
Gone are the days where voice mail to email was a fancy extra and requirements were limited to call forwards and time of day diverts.
I once worked for an ISP that acquired a small voice provider that ran all of its hosted PBX clients on an Asterisk platform. That experience ensured that when given the chance to be involved in selecting the new PBX solution in my new role at Lightwire, open source solutions were bottom of the list.
Open source has had its day in the telco space, and here’s why:
In contrast, vendor backed options have:
Vendors are not created equal, and the choice of provider needs to be based on their financial stability, the location of support staff (NZ or Australia works well), feature release schedule, API capability, and quality/price of their support levels.
The absolute key criteria is that the licensing model has to be at a point where a reasonable retail price point keeps the telco competitive and profitable.
The licensing model also has to be understandable. The more licensing levels, add-ons, and support options there are, the harder it gets for a sales team to quote and sell.
Keep it simple.
Open source appears more profitable at a high level, after all, it has no licensing costs.
However other costs have to be considered, namely in-house development and support costs, and the cost of any lost business due to the lack of market leading features.
The templated provisioning and support offered by the right proprietary solution, matched with a continually improving service proposition (for which the telco incurs no direct costs) leads to greater profits.
Beware of partner programs that allow more established suppliers of the same solution to undercut new providers.
This problem is as old as the industry itself, and of course, all telcos have the ability to undercut others, even on a loss leader basis, but in vendor world, scale gets lower buy prices, which means new entrants are at a disadvantage.
OSS still forms the framework for a number of proprietary solutions that have had significant functionality added, so it continues to play a role in that form.
For telcos focusing on small business users with very basic requirements, OSS represents a low cost solution that can be priced to suit that niche.
Brendan Ritchie (@bcarmody on Twitter) is the CEO for Lightwire Business (@Lightwirebus on Twitter) which provides internet, IP voice and WAN services across New Zealand and Australia.