The impact of open source software on Unified Communications

Open source has long been an integral part of the eZuce business model. The status of open source unified communications continues to be an interesting subject. Whether you are a straight up software development company or an “as-a-Service” provider of infrastructure, platforms, or applications (and every nook-and-cranny in between, yes, “SBC-aaS”) using open source is ubiquitous in the

information technology business. Unified Communications and Collaboration are no strangers to open source. sipXcom, Asterisk, OpenScape, FreePBX, Zulip, jitsi, Linphone and many more solutions are in the main stream today whether as native or commercial open source solutions. The recent results of the Tenth Annual Future of Open Source Survey from Black Duck Software demonstrate that 65% of the companies surveyed are contributing to open source projects. Over 90% of respondents stated that open source improves efficiency, interoperability, and innovation. This means more agile development, faster time to market and greater interoperability.

By example, eZuce’s own Agile development process benefits significantly from open source in a few critical areas. First, before developing new product requirements, our team is aware of possible building blocks or core components available through open source projects. Working within an open source framework, our engineers can quickly evaluate the viability of these projects and the relevant code to determine if it meets our standards and specifications. We examine the associated licensing in place with the project for compatibility with our requirements. This process takes weeks not months and can significantly impact our time to market. It can also expand the code base within sipXcom adding new capabilities to the project. Second, by utilizing code from an active open source project, we can reduce the number of development engineers in that particular area allowing the project to maintain and enhance the code base. We can selectively control revisions and focus on improving the existing code base through contributions while not being responsible for the entire code base.
At eZuce, we have known the value of open source since we started in 2010. We have worked to bring the best enterprise-class unified communications and collaboration solutions to market built off of our commercial open source model. Initially eZuce worked to support the sipXecs project from SIPfoundry. Due to AGPL V3 licensing that required contributor agreements at SIPfoundry, the developer community languished while the user community expanded. These contributor agreements forced code contributors to give joint ownership rights of their code to SIPfoundry. What the agreements really did was shift the burden for innovation and development squarely on the shoulders of the eZuce development team.
With the code rights concerns in mind eZuce initiated a new project called sipXcom (www.sipxcom.org). This change allowed eZuce to encourage participation in development efforts through a more relaxed licensing approach to AGPL V3 without the requirement for a contributor agreement. It turns out that developers do not want to just give away the rights to their code even though they are contributing it to open source. Since January of 2015, sipXcom has seen growth in the development community and with it more valuable contributions to the project. eZuce developers still contribute heavily to the project but over time we hope that the community will become a more substantial contributor.
I recently wrote about how open source unified communications can be supported within a global enterprise environment by combining local technical support with software maintenance to create a commercial Service Level Agreement (SLA) that enterprises can count on. eZuce fully supports this model through sipXcom and the partners around the world that provide open source UC solutions. We encourage users and developers to work with sipXcom and increase the contributions and value of the project.

For more information on the sipXcom community, click here.

Click here to hear the discussion betweeen eZuce CEO Jerry Stabile and Kevin Gully from The UC Buyer as they discuss: "What you need to know about open source unified communications."

Written by Jerry Stabile

Jerry Stabile

A thought leader and innovator, Jerry leads the team at eZuce as they change the way the enterprise interacts and collaborates. An industry veteran, he is committed to changing the status quo and has a proven track of success in the unified communications and collaboration industry. Jerry is also an outspoken advocate for open source software and works diligently to support projects such as sipXcom and many others.

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