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Published on February 1st, 2010 | by VoIPon Blogger

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Redfone Branches Out: An Interview with Mark Warren, President of Redfone Communications

Last week at TMCnet’s ITExpo, Redfone Communications providers of next-generation open source telephony solutions to small to enterprise-size businesses and makers of the foneBRIDGE product line, announced that they were integrating TeleSoft’s TsLinkNet IP-PBX VoIP Gateway Solution into their Telecom Offerings.

We took the opportunity to interview Mark Warren, the company’s president about their latest offerings and the state of the market. Below is a summary of our call.

1. VoIPon: So in light of this recent announcement, what changes are in store for your product line and what does this mean for your customers?

[Mark Warren, President, Redfone] First of all, thanks for inviting us to participate in the podcast, Kathleen.

With this announcement, first of all we’re really excited to be a partnering with such a first class organization like Telesoft. These guys are highly talented and experienced veterans in the telephony world. As you probably know, Telesoft’s code has been and continues to be used by all of the major telco gear manufacturers around the world. And we’re excited to finally be bringing their offering to the open source community and others.

Specifically, what this product will allow Redfone to do is now offer T1 or E1 to SIP connectivity to any SIP compliant PBX or application. So, we’re getting outside the realm of open source telephony, like Asterisk or FreeSWITCH, or Elastix or Trixbox and we’re branching out to anything that is essentially SIP compliant. And although the product works fantastically with all the popular guys like I just mentioned, like Asterisk and Free SWITCH, we’ll be able to play friendly with other popular products like sipX, another popular product like Open SIP, which is another popular SIP-based product that was called Open SER before, and like I said, anybody that has a SIP compliant application or PBX.

Some of the highlights of the product are, like I said, it basically takes the guesswork out of having to integrate with the PSTN, the public switched telephone network. That seems to be a headache for a lot of developers that don’t understand some of these archaic standards that were built in the ISDN, and we try to take all of the guess work out it with this particular product offering. It does all of the magic and just hands off the connectivity in the form of a simple SIP trunk to the end user, which can then plug into whatever SIP compliant application or device. It can run alongside their software application on the same server, or it can function as a highly robust and affordable, T1/E1 to SIP gateway on a standalone type device.

2. VoIPon: On another front Redfone introduced a new, low-cost single port foneBRIDGE device at the beginning of the year. What is the market for this new offering?

[MW] Well, Redfone has been the de facto standard for large, complex, high availability type systems, for a number of years now. We’ve been happy and successful in that niche. But at the same time, we’ve noticed that many of our customers, and many of the people in the market, have overlooked the fact that our devices are also great alternatives to legacy PCI type interfaces and are a perfect fit for simple, not complex, T1/E1 installs. This new Redfone foneBRIDGE2-EC Single Port offering is positioned for these types of installations. It’s cost competitive when compared to equivalent single port PCI card offerings, and like all of our other products, it’s really simple to install and maintain.

3. VoIPon: There is a lot of competition in this market. Why would someone choose a foneBRIDGE appliance? How do you differentiate yourselves against failover solutions like those from OpenVox (FA40, FB40, FD40) and the  Rhino 1PFAIL?

[MW] Generally speaking, our device is a bit more flexible in terms of compatibility with different types of server platforms. So, one of the areas that we addressed from the very beginning when we got into this game, back in 2004, was to make it a lot easier to integrate Asterisk at the time with the telephone company.

Back then, the only thing that was available was the PCI based cards, and they had a number of issues in terms of compatibility with different types of server mother boards. So we kind of eliminated that factor to begin with.

Speaking directly to the different failover offerings out there, looking at the OpenVox and the Rhino offerings, for example, both of those solutions are based on the fact that to get full redundancy, you have to double up on the number of PCI interface cards, that have on top of that, specific failover gear that sits in the middle, which essentially means that triple the investment that you would normally make.

Second, by virtue of introducing more devices in the mix you’re also introducing more single points of failure, which is kind of counter to what high availability is all about.

The Redfone device provides everything in a single, very robust, durable device solution, at the cost of single PCI card.

To summarize: it’s easier to install; it’s going to be a fraction of the cost of those other solutions; and not to mention, we’ve been in the high availability game, probably longer than anyone else in this particular market.

4. VoIPon: Is there any economic benefit to choosing a Redfone foneBRIDGE2 over say a TDM card + Software installed in a server?

[MW] At face value, our products are very comparable in pricing to the many legacy PCI card offerings on the market. In a few cases, we’re actually even a little more affordable.

Beyond a price comparison, our devices actually allow system architects, much more flexibility in their choice of server hardware, which can also equate to a reduction in their total cost of ownership or implementation.

With the ease of install of our devices, and the fact that they are not so hardware dependent, many of our customers are learning that they no longer have to invest in the biggest, most expensive, brand name server platforms to get everything to work properly. They can go out and buy inexpensive, commodity server hardware and use that savings to leverage better discounts to their end customers, or impress the boss with their savvy money saving strategies.

5. VoIPon: Where do you see the market going and what would you think the next steps are going to be for RedFone?

[MW] Well, definitely we’re seeing a continued growth in the adoption of open source telephony, without a doubt.  You know at this stage in the game, Asterisk, for example, has been on the market now for 10 years. The stigma of it being, just a nerd project, without a lot of legs underneath it to really compete with the big boys has been overcome. The fact that open source telephony has been adopted by governments as well, as large enterprises and in high profile instances in some case, is bolstering the legitimacy of open source. So the uptake of open source telephony in general is going to continue to grow.

Add to that, there is also some pretty strong competition amongst the different open source applications being developed on the market today. It’s pretty apparent that open source is going to be around for a while and people are going to continue to get to know it and use it.

In addition to that, we don’t see the need for traditional TDM connectivity to the PSTN to go away. There is still the need to interface with a T1 or E1 line or even legacy PBXs, if you’re interfacing your open source telephony application with an old PBX.

But long term, it does seem that everything is converging on the SIP protocol, which Redfone is now positioned to serve with our latest offering from the Telesoft stable of products.

VoIPon: Thanks for your time Mark. Mark Warren is president of RedFone Communications.

This has been a VoIP Uncovered Podcast brought to you by VoIPon Solutions. For more information please visit www.voipon.co.uk.

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