David Frith, Marketing Manager at VoIPon Solutions, interviews Doug Vilim, Vice President of Global Sales at Sangoma.

The pair discuss what’s new at Sangoma, the brand new Sangoma series of VoIP Phones, integration with FreePBX, why you should purchase Sangoma over rival manufacturers, and much more.

You can listen to the podcast above and read the transcript below.

VoIPon: Broadcasting from various countries around the world using Voice over IP Technology, this is VoIP Uncovered, a VoIPon Solutions UK Podcast, I’m David Frith. Today we are interviewing Sangoma and I’m delighted to welcome Doug Vilim, Vice President of Global Sales at Sangoma. Thank you for joining us today Doug.

Please could you update the VoIPon audience on what’s new with Sangoma over recent months? Including new members to the Sangoma team.

Sangoma: Thanks for having me David, I appreciate the time. Yes, sure, maybe before I start with an update on what we are doing David, I would like to take a couple of minutes and acknowledge VoIPon. VoIPon has been a great partner, for well over ten years, we started with VoIPon as Sangoma was evolving in the PBM space of telecom cards and VoIPon has been a great partner in that you have done this thorough migration with us as we have introduced more SIP centric products. You have been a great supporter, a great marketer, technical support is really well these days, so I am especially pleased that your sales and marketing, how they are progressing at VoIPon is really quite complementary to the Sangoma brand and PBX solutions.

So since the addition of FreePBX to the Sangoma portfolio, VoIPon is now number two distributor in the world as far as volume and revenue for distribution of our solutions. So VoIPon has been a great and trusted partner over the years David, and I really want to thank you and acknowledge that.

To answer you specifically, what’s new with Sangoma? Well, where do I start. Everybody knows that we recently acquired the FreePBX project and that was about 14 months ago it’s been a very successful acquisition for Sangoma on many fronts, from a revenue perspective it’s been very successful for us as the project grows and proliferates all around the world through our global channels, we inherited a great talented group of engineers from the FreePBX project that’s been added to our core teams, the sales and marketing infrastructure that the FreePBX project had the commercial side of it has been a great add to our team as well, there is a lot of cross pollination that goes on with the traditional Sangoma global sales team and the US, so now we operate as one team and it’s been very beneficial to us.

So the FreePBX project that’s probably been the biggest thing that is latest to us. Another new thing going on at Sangoma, we have taken FreePBX and done some modifications to it and you will see us release a UC base solution over the next month, so, Sangoma PBXact UC, you will see us introduce that and push much harder throughout our global distribution network, including VoIPon over the next month.

What else? Well carrier Sangoma SBCs. Carrier SBCs are doing very well for us, as you know we have an entire range of SBCs from mini, five to ten sessions, enterprise 250 sessions and carrier up to 4000 sessions and our sweet spot really has been on the carrier side, we are having great success and I think on part due to our pricing model. You will see many of our competition,  add features and functionality and they charge for everything as the system builds, whereas at Sangoma we have a one price model, I like to call it the buffet actually where everything is included at one price, so if you need to add any additional channels to your SBC you simply upgrade using a license key that we sell to you. In fact last quarter was a record sales for Sangoma in the carrier SBC market, so carrier SBC’s are doing very well for us as well. You will see the release of a CCE which is a Microsoft cloud connect which is an addition to the Skype for business product portfolio, you will see us introduce that over the next two to three weeks.

So what else is new? We recently added new channel sales and marketing staff in Europe to address the growing demand for solutions in Europe and to properly focus on the reseller channels, we have been quite distribution focused over the last number of years and while we hadn’t forgotten about our resellers, most of our resellers work directly with our distributors and while we want to maintain that relationship with resellers and distributors we want to be able to communicate and add more information and keep the information flowing to our resellers directly from Sangoma in collaboration with our distributors and see a few more channel sales folks roaming around Europe and different territories to help promote and grow the Sangoma brand to resellers and system integrators.

A few more things, SS7, about a year ago we went through a conformance test and certification with BT and we have seen enormous growth with Sangoma SS7 in the UK market, so we have seen a strong uptake since we achieved the stamp with BT, that being said David we can’t forget about our traditional telecom and gateway business, where business continues to grow in various regions around the world, so there is a lot of things going on at Sangoma, maintaining the traditional Sangoma product portfolio, growing SBC sales, growing SS7 sales and FreePBX which is continuing to grow on a monthly basis.

VoIPon: Thanks Doug, that is excellent. It sounds like Sangoma have some very interesting developments happening right now.

Sangoma have now entered the VoIP Phone market with the Sangoma Series of IP Phones. Could you tell us more about the s300, s500 and s700 IP Phones?

Sangoma: Sure David, first and foremost, these phones were designed for FreePBX. It is important to understand we are so near a UC based solution, which you will see us launch, or PBX solution for large enterprise, or through carriers and service providers to their enterprise customers but when you are responding to a large bid it is important to have an end to end solution. Most of the large wins are with end to end solutions, not in all cases, but a single member solution is typically the most favourable for large enterprises, and carriers and service providers when we’re rolling out this infrastructure to their customers.

So 14 months ago, when we purchased the company that owned the rights to the FreePBX project, there was already a full initiative underway. The project was well underway before the acquisition and Sangoma, being a public company, with a healthy balance sheet, we injected additional capital into the phone project and we exploited the project. So we recently released the s300, s500 and s700. The 300 is the entry level, the s500 being the enterprise phone and the s700 being the executive phone. And the firmware for all of these phones, it’s all industry standard firmware, it’s all capable of working with all PBXs and UCs, but for the next 6-8 months we are only interested in the FreePBX or the PBXact market.

Through a branded phone in this market from Sangoma, we want to focus our resources on capturing that market. So think about this David, it’s most likely one of the most tested PBX systems in the world, it’s rock solid. It is just a rock solid platform. Every day, there is 400 new installations of FreePBX somewhere in the world,  and that’s not somebody downloading FreePBX and playing with it, or someone downloading FreePBX and using it in their lab, or in their house. 400 new installations, on a daily basis, put into an enterprise deployment. The average number of phones for those 400 installations is 21 phones. So we’ve created a market that consumes 8,000 phones on a daily basis, and Sangoma have created that market.  

It is a well over a billion dollar industry, quite tough to get your hands around that right? It’s an enormous market share, and so the next logical step for Sangoma, in the foyer of the PBX market was to produce a phone to enable an end-to-end solution. And that’s what we’ve done, and it has been met with great success. And since we’ve released this phone in the last month, the number of deployments has been extraordinary, and the feedback that we’re going to get back from the enterprises and the channels and distribution networks has been extraordinary. So we’re really quite pleased with our decision to go into the phone market.

VoIPon: We have had some great feedback so far. Our customers are really pleased with how easy it is to get the Sangoma phones setup with the one touch provisioning.

The Sangoma IP Phones are built with FreePBX in mind, please can you tell us more about the key benefits of using the Sangoma IP Phones with FreePBX?

Well first off, we guarantee compatibility with FreePBX and our phones. By chance if there is an issue or some sort of error, we own the software. The software is worked on by teams of people within Sangoma. There is some input and contribution from the community, no doubt about it. But we are the managers and developers of the software, and we now have a phone that is designed to work with the software, it’s a single vendor solution. We can rapidly respond to issues and errors and we take them seriously. We respond with lightning speed to the user base, and we take issues, floor and incompatibilities very seriously. But because we have such a large development team, when there is an issue, we’re all over it at a very rapid speed.

We also have functionality on our phones, that you have to pay for when using phones from other competitors, such as endpoint manager. So when you look at endpoint manager, when you’re looking at a large deployment, it could be a smaller deployment, and you have to configure phones. You can go from phone, to phone, to phone and configure each phone individually. Or you can buy a commercial add on piece of software from Sangoma called Endpoint Manager. And from an operator panel, you can configure all phones on your phone PBX or your UC from a user console, so you wouldn’t have to go from phone to phone. With Sangoma, we have built Endpoint manager into the phone, so whereas if you are using a non-Sangoma phone, you would have to buy that commercial module for $75, but with Sangoma, that functionality is built into the phone.

Now, there is another commercial add-on that we sell and it’s called Commercial Apps. This includes features such as Call Park, Do Not Disturb, Call Presence, Call Forward, and many others, right. But when you buy a Sangoma phone, these applications are integrated into the phone. When you use a 3rd party phone, you have to buy this commercial add-on for about $150. So when you buy a competitor’s phone, you need to buy the functionality with this additional commercial software. When you buy a Sangoma phone, it is integrated into the phone. The other great features that one just can’t ignore, is the auto-detect and the auto-configure, it’s built into Sangoma. So when you attach a Sangoma phone to a FreePBX solution, because we have configuration server technology, our phones auto-detect and they auto-configure. So it’s pretty compelling, taking a Sangoma phone and using it with FreePBX.

VoIPon: Why should VoIPon customers purchase Sangoma IP Phones over rival products from snom, Yealink, Polycom and Grandstream?

Well, that is a good question. When you buy a Sangoma phone you can sleep at night, first and foremost, because you know it is designed for FreePBX. Sangoma phones are designed for FreePBX and PBXact, our UC based solution. It is important to remember that FreePBX is an open source and open standard project, and because of this, we have a program that allows other vendors, such as the aforementioned vendors, to certify their phones to work with FreePBX. And that’s a big responsibility we have right? We work with almost every other major phone vendor. And we work with them on a program that  allows their phones to be supported under our software for FreePBX.

So we don’t discourage other vendors, infact a couple of weeks ago Sangoma did a joint webinar with Yealink and FreePBX. So it’s a double edged sword David, we have to continue to build the FreePBX project, given that it’s an open source project, and we have to maintain open standards. But we do favour our phones by building intellectual  property into them that creates additional value for the phones, that other vendors are unable to do.  That’s really important, and it’s a double-edged sword as I said, we do build an open source piece of software called FreePBX that enables the entire world to sell phones into our application. 8,000 phones a day by building additional value and additional property into our phones, we build a little bit of favouritism into it.

So as I said earlier, a single vendor solution means you don’t have any finger pointing. If there’s a problem, or an incompatibility, you don’t have to point to another vendor, or 2 or 3 different vendors. If you’re using a Sangoma phone with FreePBX or PBXact, point the finger at us, and we’ll engage our support resources and it’ll be all over.  So the early reviews, as we’ve been shipping these phones for a month and half, and we shipped a whole lot of them I might add, the reviews have been rave reviews. We are continuing to sell more and build more on a daily basis. So I expect, our sales will catch up to our production in June timeframe because there has been an incredible early demand for these phones.

VoIPon: Could you tell us about the benefits of purchasing a Sangoma FreePBX appliance, as opposed to using your own hardware and installing FreePBX yourself?

That’s a good one David and that’s a real easy one. If they choose to download FreePBX or ISO from the web, and you log onto your own hardware platform, you need to be able to support yourself, or at least you need to be able to leverage support. You need to network, you need to be able to go to the open source community, or you need some sort of support mechanism because you’re downloading our ISO, that we provide to you for no cost, and you’re downloading it onto your own hardware platform, and so really, you’re looking to yourself or your network to support yourself.

Whether you buy a Sangoma FreePBX appliance or a Sangoma PBXact appliance, there’s a name behind that appliance, and there’s a name behind it that you can depend on for support. We’ll also package a TDM card or gateway, or even a SBC if you want, but it’s all from the same manufacturer as a supported solution. And that really is a piece of mind solution.

VoIPon: Sangoma seem to have the whole package now, can you walk us through how Sangoma might provide your full telephony system and the unique benefits of using Sangoma for your full deployment.

So there’s many different building blocks from Sangoma that we’ve put together in order to build a full solution. And now with the addition of a phone, we can have end-to-end ownership of the entire solution. So, as the momentum grows, on a daily and weekly basis, we’re looking for great partners like yourselves, to sell the entire portfolio of Sangoma to support an entire solution. So that when a customer comes to you, and they want the PBX, and they need some sort of connectivity, whether it’s through a gateway or through a telecom card, and they want a Sangoma phone, that great partners like you can provide the entire experience and ship out as a one stop solution.

So we’re seeking additional partners all around the world on the reseller side, primarily on the systems integrator side, that will want to participate in the entire solution. From PBXs, to UCs, to gateways, to phones, to help us build this network, because it builds peace of mind for customers, that greater the availability through the reseller network around the world, the greater the acceptance. So we’ve always been a premium product, at very reasonable prices. And we will release the product, you know it’s going to work, and you can depend on us for support.

It’s really important that as customers, our enterprise customers have the ability to work through the channels, and the channels have the ability to work through the distributors to count on Sangoma for vendor support. It’s not just technical support, right, it’s marketing support, sales support, engineering support, and because we have such deep routes in the telecom space, taking all the building blocks that Sangoma traditionally have, it was really quite easy for us to put this solution together. So it also gives us the ability to put bundles together because we have a beginning to end solution, we can go into different markets like 4 x 8, or an 8 x 16, in a pre-packaged solution that VoIPon would sell using Sangoma products, to their channels. So as I mentioned previously, you can never downplay or overlook the single vendor solution that Sangoma can now provide, it’s very powerful for us.

VoIPon: We have already seen the new Sangoma IP Phones this year and more updates to FreePBX and PBXact, can we expect to see any more new products or updates this year?

Oh you sure can, every day is an adventure at Sangoma because we get inundated with requests from all around the world. We sell in well over 170 countries around the world through distributors and resellers and a vast global network, so you can imagine the vast number of requests that we get on a daily basis. But where I see FreePBX and PBXact going is into more vertical markets, so we have high density gateways, FXS gateways, and we have a UC and we have a PBX solution.

So, along with high density gateways today to preserve the analogue phones that are installed in universities, apartment buildings, senior citizen residences and hotels. Another add-on software that we sell as commercial software add-on to FreePBX, is Call Centre software.

We do have frequent requests from customers all around the world for additional functionality as this space grows. So with requests for different types of reporting, additional functionality, the ability to hook into different CRMs, you can expect to see us expand our call centre solution functionality within FreePBX.

So in summary you can expect to see growth on the software side and in vertical markets, the operative word being solutions, because our customers are looking for solutions and end solutions from a single vendor.

Thank you for joining us today Doug, and bringing the VoIPon listeners up to date with the latest developments at Sangoma. This has been a VoIP Uncovered podcast. For more information please visit www.voipon.co.uk

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