The Cisco FutureLine Hosted Voice system is based on Digium Asterisk at the core and uses Cisco Systems networking and endpoint ( voip phones, video over ip equipment etc etc ) hardware.

Whilst some people might view Cisco and Digium as unlikely partners I believe that they represent one of the most powerful combinations in the telephony world.

I regard Digium and Asterisk respectively as a company and a solution whose time has come. I am not alone in this view. If you doubt my opinion then perhaps you may consider the involvement of David Skok of Matrix Partners

in Digium. He is one of the investors.

David is specifically focused on the areas of cloud computing, Open Source, Software as a Service (SaaS), marketing automation, virtualization, storage, and data center automation.

Consider also the references in the book ” Asterisk: the future of telephony ” :

” In the book ” Paradigm Shift ” Tim O’Reilly talks about a paradigm shift that is occurring in the way technology ( both hardware and software ) is delivered. O’Reilly identifies three trends:

– the commoditisation of software

– network enabled collaboration

– software customisability ( software as a service – SaaS )

These three concepts provide evidence to suggest that open source technology is an idea whose time has come. ”

In this blog here

I have highlighted a number of general benefits of  a Digium Asterisk based Hosted Voice platform. ( These benefits also apply to premises based or managed solutions ).

In the same way that a Digium Asterisk based pbx like the Switchvox can be compared favourably to other premises based alternatives e.g. Avaya/Nortel or Panasonic a Digium Asterisk based Hosted Voice solution can be compared favourably to other proprietary Hosted Voice solutions e.g. Broadsoft or Mitel.

Without going through all the general benefits highlighted in my earlier blog it is reasonable to assume that the advantages are scaled up in line with the scaling of the system from one that serves a single customer to one that serves multiple customers.

If you are a reseller, distributer or small telco or cloud services company looking to provide Hosted Voice services to your customers ( and perhaps the customers of your customers ) then you are going to be looking at an investment in the order of £100’s of thousands ( albeit financed over a period of time ) in order to acquire a proprietary Hosted solution from e.g. Broadsoft or Mitel.

I highlight proprietary solution because it seems to me that the very last thing you want to do is to spend £100’s of thousands on a solution that is not “open”, standards based, easily upgradeable, customisable and flexible.

For an in depth appreciation of the problem being faced we can turn to David Skok again and a series of posts such as

David starts:

” This post provides SaaS entrepreneurs with an Excel spreadsheet model and graphs that show the cash flow trough that happens to SaaS, or other subscription/recurring revenue businesses that use a sales organization. These kinds of SaaS businesses face a cash flow problem in the early days, because they have to invest up front in sales and marketing expenses to acquire customers, and only get payments from those customers over a delayed period of time. I refer to this phenomenon as the the SaaS Cash Flow Trough. ”

The cash flow problem in the early days is only going to be worse if you have to spend £100’s of thousands on your Hosted Voice platform !!

So, for many reasons, even though there have been successful models around the world based on proprietary Hosted Voice systems – I think there are a lot of failures in the Hosted Voice world based on such platforms – I believe that an investment in a Digium Asterisk based platform is going to help a Hosted Voice business model massively ( because it is going to be far less up front cost, more scalable, upgradeable etc etc ).

Evidently, if you are going to be supplying a total voice solution to a customer, you are going to need things like networking hardware ( routers, firewalls etc ), end points ( phones, video cameras etc ), possibly storage solutions, virtualisation hardware and software, broadband, SIP trunks etc etc

Who better to partner with than Cisco ??

As I have mentioned before there are millions of Cisco endpoints and routers attached to Digium Asterisk systems – particularly systems that have been supplied to small and medium sized businesses.

A quick review of  established and experienced Digium Asterisk value added resellers proves that they typically have Cisco and Microsoft skills and accreditations aswell as Digium Asterisk. They have to have really – don’t they !

Clearly Cisco have products and services that compete with Digium Asterisk products and services.

However Cisco also partner with e.g. Broadsoft and it could easily be argued that Broadsoft based solutions are preventing sales of e.g. Cisco UC 500 systems.

In the S.M.B. space particularly ( and here I mean S.M.B. end user customers and S.M.B. resellers, distributers and telco’s ) I believe the combination of Cisco and Asterisk is unbeatable and this is the combination that FutureLine provides.