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Digium full-court press (release)

Digium took the opportunity afforded by the Internet Telephony show to make a whack of new announcements this morning:

  • The launch of the TDM800P card (based on VoiceBus technology) and a Carrier Grade, Software-based Echo Canceller. The TDM800P is an 8-port analog telephony interface card. Based on Digium’s patent-pending VoiceBus technology, the TDM800P is a half-length, full-height 32-bit 33MHz PCI 2.2-compliant, 8 port modular analog telephony interface card. The VoiceBus technology, as first introduced on Digium’s TDM2400P, allows the TDM800P to use an industry standard bus-mastering PCI interface, as found in millions of PCs worldwide, to maximize system compatibility and eliminate system conflicts.   Alongside this card, they’ve also introduced their first software-based echo canceller, the High Performance Echo Canceller (HPEC). The HPEC is carrier-grade and provides host-based Toll-Quality echo cancellation on a global scale. The HPEC solution uses an algorithm that is compliant with the industry standard for echo cancellers, G.168.
  • Updates to AsteriskNOW including the new BuyNOW feature. AsteriskNOW now includes automatic purchasing and provisioning capabilities with Polycom, instant account set-up with VoicePulse, expanded browser functionality, and a Direct Inward Dial (DID) feature which enables four digit extension programming capabilities for remote employees and branch offices. The Polycom component is being positioned as a glimpse into a greater expanding partnership between Polycom and Digium.
  • New options for the Asterisk Appliance Developer Kit.   Users can now choose between three kits, with varying educational training programs. In addition to the original kit which includes a two day training class with Mark Spencer for $3,995.00, the kits is now offered at $2795 with a one day training class or $2195 with a webinar training class.

I caught up with Digium VP Bill Miller before the announcements and asked him a few questions.

AS: Let’s start with VoiceBus.  What is it, and why is it significant?

BM: VoiceBus is a new chip/architecture and design that we initially used for the TDM2400P and that will be on new cards from Digium. This design is compatible with millions of PCI busses in the world on the largest sample of servers. It also applies to emerging PCI Express cards. It is significant to Digium because customers want to ensure compatibility with their servers for all Digium products. Coupled with Digium’s new “Quality First” mantra, users will benefit from our VoiceBus initiative and the fact that we take seriously all feedback that we hear in the forums, in articles, from competitors, and from tech support.  
 
AS: Previous Digium products have had hardware based echo cancellation.  Why software now?  And where does the software run?  Is it on the CPU, or is on the card?

BM: We have a vision to provide echo-free solutions in all relevant products from Digium and at a price-performance that fits the Digium customer’s budget. We will continue to offer hardware-based Echo Cancellation on appropriate higher performance Digium cards including the TE120P that we are announcing this week and software echo cancellers on other cards including the TDM800P that we are announcing this week. We will continue to deliver these solutions with the vision of providing superior voice quality on all platforms. We will provide free upgrades for all in-warranty cards for the software solution and free upgrades for all out-of-warranty Digium cards but without support (but with community support) for the software solution. Note that we are also offering the software solution for non-Digium cards. On the software echo canceler, the software runs on the server while the hardware echo can runs on the Digium cards. The excellent performance of our software echo cancelers work very well on most of today’s servers. At the end of the day, we will provide echo-free solutions to our hardware customers that are superior to open source solutions and at very attractive price/performance.

AS: Can you give us some more detail on the BuyNow feature?  You’ve announced partnerships with Polycom and VoicePulse.  Will there be others?

BM: Polycom is our Preferred Phone Partner and will be the only phone partner in the BuyNOW feature within the AsteriskGUI. This feature is designed to make it very easy for customers to select fully certified best-in-class interoperable IP phones with their new Asterisk system. We are jointly developing solutions with Polycom that enable auto-provisioning of all Polycom phones and HD (High Definition Polycom Phone) support on AsteriskNOW, Asterisk Business Edition, and on our Asterisk Appliance. Additional advanced features are currently under development for future releases, so stay tuned and you will see that we are working hard to take Asterisk Open Source to the small business and mid-market. 

VoicePulse, one of our early access testers for the appliance, is the first of a select group of VoIP Service Providers who will be pre-configured in the AsteriskGUI where this enables users to select a provider that has certified their VoIP service with Asterisk. Users have a choice of many service providers and Digium’s goal is to certify a select group of these VoIP providers and make it a single click to VoIP selection within our GUI. Watch for more Certified Service Provider Partners in the near future.   

Digium is in discussions other partners who may be included in the BuyNOW feature, an exclusive for “Preferred Partners”, certified by Digium with Genuine Asterisk. We are focused primarily on partners who enable business productivity and mobility that enables users to rapidly purchase and deploy certified solutions that take the worry out of Asterisk open source production solutions.

AS: The AADK announcement looks as if it is simply pricing changes for training programs.  Is that true, or are there also software changes?

BM: There are no software changes except for the AsteriskGUI which for the most part mirrors the AsteriskNOW version. We build the embedded version of Asterisk 1.4 plus embedded uCLInux plus the AsteriskGUI together as an optimized solution for the appliance. The AADKs are designed and packaged for different markets. For example, the flagship kit announced at VON and shipping since November was targeted at developers who really need to understand the embedded environment and  the GUI design so they can develop a turnkey customized appliance for their own markets. After that launch, we received feedback that systems integrators, resellers, distributors and others wanted to develop simple SMB solutions but not do core development thus did not require the full 3-day live training course. Finally, with the number of sales around the world and the challenges to bring people into regional locations for live training, we decided to kick-off a webinar training session for the basic training to get the kit installed, running, and built into a customized product offer. 
 
AS: Overall, what has the response to the AADK been like?

BM: Response has been excellent. We just completed a training class in Dallas and we have one shortly in Europe. In the very first class alone, we had three customers who were in the process of developing their own Asterisk Appliance. We made it easy for them to adopt ours and shortened their development cycle. We have also experienced an interesting customer – traditional voice and data resellers adopting the kit as a means to enter the Asterisk world. Stay tuned. There will be more announcements along these lines in the coming months.

In Summary Alec, this is an exciting time at Digium. AsteriskNOW version 1.0 is taking shape, and will be released after we get more feedback from users and enable a few more GUI features currently being tested across a wider range of servers. The Digium TDM cards are looking solid and bright as we integrate VoiceBus technology across the product line including new yet unannounced cards, and our Asterisk Appliance is in it’s market enablement stage – an important stage for the New Digium to grow. A new Authorized Reseller Program and enhanced Technology, Service Provider and Training Partner programs are nearing completion as we scale Digium to new heights. Major new partners are in the pipeline that will leverage Asterisk and our programs, and our team at Digium is growing and adding experienced people at all levels. Mark Spencer is enjoying his experience of building and growing Digium. Look for his next Keynote Speech, as he prepares to do something special. He may just talk about some of these changes and experiences in the market as Digium enables Asterisk in the mainstream.  

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