Saturday, September 16, 2006

Open source and VOIP is nightmare for Network Equipment vendors

Inspiration for this post is an article I read in Linux world about how an university made huge savings by shifting to open source PBX from Cisco one, for those of you who is interested in reading this article here is the link .Though I have been following open source projects in the field of telecommunication in general for more than 4 years I have never been more convinced then now that these projects are going to impact networks vendors bottom-line and hence a serious opportunity for other players to entire the space .

It is pretty clear and accepted fact that Linux in Operating system space, MySQL in Database space, JBoss in App server space to name a few not only posed serious threats to traditional Software vendors but forced the industries business model for ever .IBM is a solid and biggest example the company that not only embraced open Source SW but also used it effectively to turn around its business and revenue from pure product based to today’s predominantly services based business. It is worth to note that before the rise of Linux which basically formed the nucleus/heart of open source movement the commercial proprietary SW ruled the market and had good pricing power making SW industry as one of the elitist and high margin industry .But the whole landscape has changed in span of little more than half decade .My point of writing this issue is to form a basis for comparison with what is happening today in telecommunication equipment business.

Telecommunication industry has not changed much from business model perspective from the days of first PSTN network nearly more then a century before. as a result of which you can see handful of big players who are there from nearly century controlling most of the market (eg Ericsson,Alcatel,Lucent to name a few).But things are changing rapidly after internet boom with IP establishing itself as undisputed layer for carrying traffic which resulted and gave opportunities for companies like Cisco to be created .But though there was some rationalization happening w.r.t to networking technologies but business model ( i.e still customer needs to shell out per licensee fee) didn’t change .But now I think with advent of VOIP to mainstream business coupled with open source movement in this field would definitely change the landscape,VOIP forms the nucleus/heart of open source movement in telecommunication industry same way as Linux formed the heart of open source movement in SW industry. Now the interesting thing to watch is which big telecommunication player would embrace open source to propel it next stage same way as IBM did it in SW industry? I guess there needs to be similar kind of crisis as experienced by IBM in one of the big telecommunication players for it to embrace it .So far telecommunication vendors are trying to merge among themselves to survive but it wont be too long when one of them at least is forced to embrace open source ecosystem and subsequently change its business model. Which may well form the basis for their survival in converged world also?

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