Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX



  • EDIT: My original quest has turned into a fling with FusionPBX. If you are interested in giving it a go message me for help or join #fusionpbx on freenode. Moved 2 businesses offer so far its all pros and no cons. I have still reached out to multiple people about the original subject to see if we can get anyone else to release a FOSS competitor.

    Based on some of the comments in this thread I am thinking about reaching out to developers of various projects to elicit a release of a FOSS version of a their stand alone PBX product that we could throw community support behind.

    FreePBX currently is the most recommended small PBX solution on the market, FOSS or not. But as @JaredBusch mentioned in the aforementioned thread it still isn't a clear FOSS product. Everyone is interested in a production level system that is "cloud ready".

    I thought I would outline a list of requirements, and I can add to the list based on anyone's feedback to this thread. Once I have enough feedback I am going to start to reach out to vendors/developers referencing back to this thread.

    • Basic PBX Functionality (Voicemail, Extensions, Ring Groups, Dial Plan, Call Forwards, Users, Presence, BLF)

    • Share line appearance (Something FreePBX doesn't mimic or support)

    • Built in Security/Firewall or SBC (border controller)

    • Simple installation process primarily for a hosted environment

    • Some type of clear/simple provisioning template system

    • No limits on users, devices, trunks, etc. In other words a true FOSS solution with feature parity to FreePBX

    This could be the combination of several projects or a single product modified for a simple single tenant installation. Surely someone out there will support this as it could lead to exposure for their other products and services.strikethrough text



  • I um gotta think people would be supportive of this. Would hate to put "upvote this post if you agree".



  • It's been a while since I've had anything to do with a pbx system but I still think it would be a good idea for everyone else. Nothing wrong with trying to get a FOSS version going that meets production needs.



  • I was going to reach out to some contacts but wanted to direct them back to this post with a lot of community interest. I can think of at least 2 commercial PBX products that we MIGHT convince to release open source. Most of their revenue is derived from training, support and multitenant deployments and customizations.


  • Service Provider

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    I was going to reach out to some contacts but wanted to direct them back to this post with a lot of community interest. I can think of at least 2 commercial PBX products that we MIGHT convince to release open source. Most of their revenue is derived from training, support and multitenant deployments and customizations.

    That's interesting. The tough part there is that most closed source systems have code licensing issues making it difficult even if they wanted to release their own portions. It's an awesome idea, though.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    I was going to reach out to some contacts but wanted to direct them back to this post with a lot of community interest. I can think of at least 2 commercial PBX products that we MIGHT convince to release open source. Most of their revenue is derived from training, support and multitenant deployments and customizations.

    That's interesting. The tough part there is that most closed source systems have code licensing issues making it difficult even if they wanted to release their own portions. It's an awesome idea, though.

    Have actually thought about that.

    Some immediate thoughts that occured to me

    1.) Sipwise CPBX whichI actually thought this was already a free download. I am surprised its not as I can't imagine stand alone CPBX is a big seller for them outside of an entire carrier setup

    Also they hae released SIP Provider FOSS which is a bigger deal than the CPBX component. They have been trying to break into the US market for a while. I feel like its doable.

    2.) Kazoo (the successor to freeswitch's bluebox, which would have been a FreePBX for freeswitch) could be reduced to a simpler installation.

    3.) Fusion PBX (which just needs a single server guide written for the layman)

    4.) SipXecs could be simplified to a single server installation

    5.) Thirdlane is a better PBX than FreePBX IMO, and is inexpensive but not free. Given they mostly focus on multi-tenant its a possibility.

    I lot of these have borrowed from projects like Jitsi who are true FOSS supporters.

    When you consider the exposure these guys are missing vs the small amount of revenue they get from their baseline PBX products... how many times a week do you tell someone to use FreePBX?


  • Service Provider

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    When you consider the exposure these guys are missing vs the small amount of revenue they get from their baseline PBX products... how many times a week do you tell someone to use FreePBX?

    A LOT!



  • @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    When you consider the exposure these guys are missing vs the small amount of revenue they get from their baseline PBX products... how many times a week do you tell someone to use FreePBX?

    The question is how small is it? Do we really know?

    Assuming they moved to a support only model for revenue, would they have to charge an arm and a leg like XO to cover their bases, basically driving the support cost out of most SMB anyway?


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    When you consider the exposure these guys are missing vs the small amount of revenue they get from their baseline PBX products... how many times a week do you tell someone to use FreePBX?

    The question is how small is it? Do we really know?

    Assuming they moved to a support only model for revenue, would they have to charge an arm and a leg like XO to cover their bases, basically driving the support cost out of most SMB anyway?

    XO doesn't have to, their investors make them. Not the same thing.


  • Service Provider

    In fact, we are pretty sure that XO is losing a fortune because they aren't charging a small enough amount.


  • Service Provider

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?



  • @scottalanmiller @Dashrender

    Are we talking about Verizon XO? At first I thought we were talking about OX. Or XiVO?


  • Service Provider

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller @Dashrender

    Are we talking about Verizon XO? At first I thought we were talking about OX. Or XiVO?

    He means XenOrchestra


  • Service Provider

    He's using XO's insane pricing model as an example because he's thinking that them being open source is what made their pricing so absurd. But the actual issue has nothing to do with open source but European venture capital practices and so he's made a connection that doesn't exist and is applying it here. XO is actually an example of how open source should work from a product perspective and shows how tons and tons of smaller customers would make for a handy profit.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller @Dashrender

    Are we talking about Verizon XO? At first I thought we were talking about OX. Or XiVO?

    He means XenOrchestra

    My mind was elsewhere.

    Trying to direct market something like an IP-PBX today is really ridiculous when you consider RingCentral spends $1mm a day marketing against you with a turn-key solution. Overall cost aside, a business owner wants turn key.

    Your only real hope is to have a Freemium or FOSS model. FreePBX does this with modules, banner ads cough, products, etc. There is no marketing going on there, its the IT community thats propping them up.

    It seems like a no brainer, and I feel like we could convince someone with a good product of all this. Even if someone starts offering customers Hosted PBX with free individual instances, eventually when that have 10+ tenants they are in a nightmare of updating servers. Growing those free accounts into an MT customer is a win-win for both parties.

    promise I am done editing this post



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.



  • @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller @Dashrender

    Are we talking about Verizon XO? At first I thought we were talking about OX. Or XiVO?

    He means XenOrchestra

    My mind was elsewhere.

    Trying to direct market something like an IP-PBX today is really ridiculous when you consider RingCentral spends $1mm a day marketing against you with a turn-key solution. Overall cost aside, a business owner wants turn key.

    Your only real hope is to have a Freemium or FOSS model. FreePBX does this with modules, banner ads cough, products, etc. There is no marketing going on there, its the IT community thats propping them up.

    It seems like a no brainer, and I feel like we could convince someone with a good product of all this. Even if someone starts offering customers Hosted PBX with free individual instances, eventually when that have 10+ tenants they are in a nightmare of updating servers. Growing those free accounts into an MT customer is a win-win for both parties.

    promise I am done editing this post

    A nightmare of updating servers? Sure a MT solution could be nice in larger deployments, but 10 hardly seems like an issue.


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    I don't understand. What action in this would increase any costs? I only see costs staying the same or getting cheaper. Where do you see this increase coming from?


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?



  • @dashrender said in [Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX]

    A nightmare of updating servers? Sure a MT solution could be nice in larger deployments, but 10 hardly seems like an issue.

    20, 100, IDK. I deployed 11 FreePBX instances for production environments. The updates have broken servers, once I uploaded a greeting wav file and the whole system crashed. One day the Firewall GUI changed 3 times. Sometimes trying to update modules has caused the whole system to stop working, then I am staring at a screen that is telling me Asterisk is gone. And no, all the fwconsole commands in the world wont bring it back.

    Every Hosted PBX provider hits a number where the cost of manpower would be more than a larger solution. I dont just mean MT like 3CX would do, putting multiple tenants on a single server. Rather I am talking about multiple servers, servers with dedicated roles and redundancy.

    You couldnt build a Hosted PBX server too far on FreePBX. Mobile apps get blocked by the firewall as the traverse networks, deploying HA for each tenant would be too much work and cost. I could go on a while about this but I wont.

    And at any rate, if Asterisk, FreePBX, Freeswitch, etc do it - sure more can.



  • @scottalanmiller said in [Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    I can't imagine selling a software PBX in this day and age, where everyone online is going to point you to a more feature-rich Free PBX package that does 90% of what you want for free.

    But maybe thats why I am just noticing ThirdLane PBX is still on Asterisk 11. Maybe they under-develop the products.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    A price that entices SMBs to buy it but the cost would be that SMBs using that support so much to overcome the income from the support contract. No clue how often that happens.


  • Service Provider

    @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in [Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    I can't imagine selling a software PBX in this day and age, where everyone online is going to point you to a more feature-rich Free PBX package that does 90% of what you want for free.

    But maybe thats why I am just noticing ThirdLane PBX is still on Asterisk 11. Maybe they under-develop the products.

    Asterisk 11 is only one LTS behind. It's not... horrible. FreePBX is on 13 with 14 available for testing, though.


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    A price that entices SMBs to buy it but the cost would be that SMBs using that support so much to overcome the income from the support contract. No clue how often that happens.

    But none of that is needed. They don't have to change a single pricing thing. I think that you are assuming that they will change all kinds of things and get screwed. SUre, they can if they want to, but they can just as easily do that today without being open source and they have not. Going open source would not influence that in any meaningful way. Those are unrelated decisions. If they have a logical pricing model today, they would logically keep it exactly as it is.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    A price that entices SMBs to buy it but the cost would be that SMBs using that support so much to overcome the income from the support contract. No clue how often that happens.

    But none of that is needed. They don't have to change a single pricing thing. I think that you are assuming that they will change all kinds of things and get screwed. SUre, they can if they want to, but they can just as easily do that today without being open source and they have not. Going open source would not influence that in any meaningful way. Those are unrelated decisions. If they have a logical pricing model today, they would logically keep it exactly as it is.

    Right, the product is already developed. It just get downloaded and used more. More opportunities to showcase other products. More opportunities to sell modules. More people in your forums trying things, asking questions, etc.

    Just please no banner ads across the web interfaces. Please no proprietary hardware offerings. And instead of CAPEX for add-on modules at least offer a month to month version.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Given that open source costs less to make, and as there is nothing in this model that would increase the support costs, why would it cost any more to support if given away than under the current model?

    Giving it away wouldn't increase their costs but making/selling "cheap" support could drive their costs through the roof. Could be the operative word.

    Why would they make "cheap" support. What does that portion mean?

    A price that entices SMBs to buy it but the cost would be that SMBs using that support so much to overcome the income from the support contract. No clue how often that happens.

    But none of that is needed. They don't have to change a single pricing thing. I think that you are assuming that they will change all kinds of things and get screwed. SUre, they can if they want to, but they can just as easily do that today without being open source and they have not. Going open source would not influence that in any meaningful way. Those are unrelated decisions. If they have a logical pricing model today, they would logically keep it exactly as it is.

    a logical pricing model? What would that be other than selling the product and selling support? But the discussion is to drop the cost on the product completely which only leaves selling support. Which is all I was saying.

    So, today, the only ones buying it are the ones willing to both pay for the product AND pay for support. But tomorrow let's assume that the product is free. If they want any chance at getting support contacts from the SMB they will have to be a pretty low cost on that support, otherwise it won't sell, a la XO. Now maybe they won't care about that because they have no desire to support SMB so they leave the support costs where they are today. Fine, this only works for them because they already had a customer base at their old pricing model. But if they were to jump out there today like like XO has they would probably be floundering to find customers.


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    a logical pricing model? What would that be other than selling the product and selling support?

    Selling software is never a logical model. That's a totally bizarre model that makes no sense.

    The logical model is the one that they already have, selling support.



  • @bigbear said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    Just please no banner ads across the web interfaces. Please no proprietary hardware offerings. And instead of CAPEX for add-on modules at least offer a month to month version.

    Are the prices of the modules so outrageous to you that it makes the product unusable? I challenge you to find a normal vendor selling typical SMB phone systems cheaper than the cost of those desired modules that do that functionality.


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    But the discussion is to drop the cost on the product completely which only leaves selling support. Which is all I was saying.

    No, the discussion is to make a product open source. You already only really pay for support. I don't know of any vendor that sells software PBXs without support. The PBX is worthless on its own, only the support is worth money. That's all that they sell now.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    @dashrender said in Let's Convince Someone to release a FOSS PBX:

    But the discussion is to drop the cost on the product completely which only leaves selling support. Which is all I was saying.

    No, the discussion is to make a product open source. You already only really pay for support. I don't know of any vendor that sells software PBXs without support. The PBX is worthless on its own, only the support is worth money. That's all that they sell now.

    That's all the vendor in question sells now. clearly other PBX vendors also sell modules.


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