"So, tell me about your deal with 3COM", I asked. "Sure," came the answer. "But first can I give you a little background on this and our acquisition of SwitchVox?"
And that's how my interview with Digium CEO Danny Windham started.
Windham came to Digium earlier this year. A stranger to Open Source, he immersed himself in the culture by reading the classics, like Raymond's the Cathedral and the Bazaar, and Don Tapscott's soon to be classic Wikinomics.
Ultimately, Windham concluded that the decisions they had to make were around driving the proliferation of Asterisk, and the biggest barrier they faced was that a "technically sophisticated" community was required. Asterisk is harder to use than it needs to be.
Last week's acquisition of SwitchVox addressed the ease-of-use issue.
Today, Digium is announcing a distribution deal with PBX giant 3COM. A 3COM branded version of Digium's Asterisk Appliance will be made available to 3COM's 60,000 resellers. Targeted at the 5 to 30 user marketplace, this offering will support 3COM handsets, and include the 3COM management interface so that it's clearly a member of the 3COM product family. Branded "3COM Asterisk, powered by Digium", it will be priced similarly to Digium's own offerings. Windham acknowledged that there might be a small overlap between Digium's own channel and the 3COM channel, but said that the pricing strategy was designed to mitigate that risk.
As a 100 person company, Digium can't be everything to everyone, said Windham. Recruiting partners like 3COM will give them access to new segments of the market, allow them to continue to build new products and components for small and medium size businesses, and continue to be the "shepherd of the open source Asterisk distribution".
Most importantly, according to Windham Digium is profitable today, and this new partnership with 3COM is a great upside opportunity for growth. That ought to make Digium's investors happy. It also ought to make the Asterisk community happy — they've just seen the potential of their years of energy, work and investment multiply dramatically.