In 2003 when Howard and I coined the name for our company, iotum, our original business plan was to build a small device combining a router, VoIP telephony, and WiFi. Hence the name “iotum” — an “iota” being the smallest thing either of us could think of. Ultimately we abandoned that plan, as developing hardware quite definitely didn’t play to either of our strengths.
Over the years I’ve seen several attempts to deliver something close to that original vision, but nothing that worked well, or delivered the feature set we had envisioned.
Until now, that is.
I’ve been playing with Jazinga‘s first offering, pictured at the right. It’s a little wider than a LinkSys WRT54G router, and maybe not quite as deep. It appears to be nothing more than a simple WiFi router, until you turn it around and note that in addition to four IP ports, it also sports 2 FXS and 1 FXO port. For the telecom uninitiated, that’s jargon for two internal lines and one external line.
In fact, there’s a lot in this deceptively small box. Jazinga is a QoS router, firewall, and WiFi access point. It’s a small business phone system, voice mail server, conference server, and automated call distribution system. It can also provide basic unified communications features, like synching your voice mails with your email inbox.
Jazinga is unbelievably feature rich. It would be hard to imagine what else a small business might need from a communications perspective.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is the ease with which it is set up. For starters, phones are self configuring. It was magic watching Jazinga find the IP handsets on my network, download new firmware and reboot them. Configuring the appliance was just as easy. Jazinga’s flash based installation wizard walks you through configuring your internet connection, setting up voice trunks, setting up users and extensions, creating teams for automated call distribution, creating an auto attendant and recording prompts. In my opinion, Jazinga setup sets a new bar for “easy” in the telecom industry.
In use, I found Jazinga to be intuitive, with high quality voice (due to the QoS router), and no real compromises. It made a superb addition to my home office environment.
While there aren’t any hard limits on Jazinga, CEO Randy Busch told me that the practical limit is around 20 users, probably in a mixed office environment rather than a straight sales or call center environment. That makes sense. And the price is right. Where else do you know of that you can get a 20 person phone system, wireless network, firewall, router, and so on for $1095 (not including the handsets)? Even do-it-yourself Asterisk isn’t much cheaper once you’ve bought the PC, the FXO/FXS cards and so on.
Inexpensive, fully featured, and easy to set up, Jazinga is a winner in my opinion. Available directly from Jazinga or via resellers.