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Fonality Debuts Trixbox 2.0

Not letting the grass grow underfoot, Fonality has used Astricon to make their first tangible announcements around their latest acquisition, Trixbox.  Just three weeks after the announcement of the acquisition, Trixbox 2.0 beta, available today, sports a new “point and click” interface, a GUI package manager, Sangoma drivers, and integration with Lumenvox. 

Chatting with Fonality CEO Chris Lyman yesterday afternoon, he revealed that Fonality has been applying resources to Trixbox since long before the acquisition was announced.  Fonality views this release as their first opportunity to show that they mean to “do good” for the community.  With it, the process of configuring Asterisk has gone from being “super geeky” to “kind of geeky”. Fonality’s goal is that an ordinary IT consultant should be able to roll a PBX for a customer with just an hour or two of work.  With the addition of the new package manager, they claim you don’t need to go to the CLI to configure Asterisk based systems any more.  If true, that’s a great step forward.

There’s a very interesting story developing here.  At the initial announcement, I mused that Digium should have acquired Trixbox themselves.  Lyman volunteered that the Digium community was primarily focused on plumbing issues, while the Trixbox community has been focused on applications. He compares Digium Asterisk to the old CLI world of DOS, and is very focused on making Trixbox easy for mere mortals to configure and use. Naturally, these are two different models altogether.  When I pressed him, and asked if didn’t see Digium moving in that direction, he said that he saw the Asterisk appliance as a step toward an easier to use Asterisk, but he also noted that for 1/3 the cost of the Asterisk appliance, he could supply 3 times the power on a PC platform.  So far as Fonality is concerned, Digium’s appliance puts them in competition with Linksys, not Fonality.

I also took the opportunity to ask Chris how he planned to make money with Trixbox.  His answer was two parts: first, Trixbox has a great brand, and to the extent that it can court a large developer community, that’s a brand that Fonality would like to be associated with.  And secondly, Chris has observed that Trixbox is the first choice for IT managers wanting to prototype an application before asking for funds to deploy that application.  When they go for full deployment though, he believes that they will want a hardened platform, like Fonality’s commercial offering.

I speculated that they might be looking to the Trixbox community for new applications to commercialize on Fonality as well, but he demurred on that point, only saying that it was too early to contemplate a move like that. 

Tom Keating has some more perspectives here.

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