Open Source

Conversation with eZuce on Open Source Trends in Communications and Collaboration

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Editors’ note: eZuce offers open-source virtualized communications and collaboration solutions in the cloud. Founder and CEO Martin Steinmann is also the founder of SIPfoundry, another open-source community for collaboration solutions. He shares his perspectives on virtualization, collaboration software and the latest open-source trends. 

SandHill.com: What impact is social media having on open-source software solutions, and vice versa?

Martin Steinmann: I assume we are talking about enterprise social media networking. From the perspective of open systems and open source, a new silo was created. No interoperability exists between different vendors’ solutions, and enterprises cannot federate their internal social networks.

In the consumer space that might matter less as long as everyone agrees to be in one place (such as on Facebook or LinkedIn). In the enterprise space this is a real problem as information, social groups and relationships accumulated inside these social networking silos cannot be leveraged outside the enterprise. In that sense enterprise social networks will never be able to replace email, one of the goals stated early on.

SandHill.com: From your observance, what are the top ways open-source software has been a game-changer and impacted the competitive arena in the software industry during the past 12 months? 

Martin Steinmann: Is it really a game-changer and, if so, of what game? There is more closed source and proprietary software around than ever and very few open-source startup companies made it to a really big exit.

But open source continues to change two other dimensions of our industry: 1) it is a great go-to-market strategy that expands reach and can create viral communities, and 2) it has changed the way technology proliferates.  GitHub has become the place where software developers meet, and I would bet that practically any commercial product that contains software includes some pieces that came from a public GitHub repository.

SandHIll.com: How do business buyers benefit from open-source virtualization solutions in ways that differ from closed-source solutions?

Martin Steinmann: Business buyers want two things (and only two things): 1) something that truly costs less (remember total cost of ownership?), and 2) something that works. The analysis of whether open-source software is truly cheaper than commercial software is often not that simple. The model that seems to work best is “commercial open source,” i.e., a company with an open-source business model that also offers a fully supported (and tested) version of the software. The open-source nature often provides the best guarantees for standards compliance, and these models do tend to come in at the lowest overall TCO.

Virtualization is something that mainly happens inside a CPU chip or at the lowest level of the operating system. Where open source has a bigger impact is one level above that at the cloud operating system with solutions such as OpenStack, CloudStack, Eucalyptus and others. This is where open source helps proliferate standards, and that is what open source does best.

SandHill.com: Please share an example of how open source enables eZuce to bring competitive advantages to its customers.  

Martin Steinmann: eZuce is a commercial open-source company with an open source business model. We believe in open systems and standards. We believe that communications solutions should be free of hardware constraints and operate as software applications in a standards-based and virtualized IT environment (private cloud).

At Red Hat we helped transform a legacy communications infrastructure into a modern, software-based solution. Five regional clusters of legacy hardware were replaced with one globally load-sharing and redundant software application that runs in a standard virtualized environment, reducing hardware requirements by up to 80 percent.

For managed service providers wanting to offer communication and collaboration to mid-size and large enterprises on a subscription basis as a managed service, the eZuce openUC software significantly reduces production cost of this service. Made for the cloud and virtualized environments, openUC comes with the smallest resource footprint. The entire solution can run on a single virtual host serving a few hundred customers and expand into a global cluster serving many tens of thousands of users.

Our management system auto-installs and auto-configures cluster nodes. We are the first company to leverage 10gen’s MongoDB for a real-time communications system, which significantly improves performance and further reduces management overhead and resource requirements.

Users benefit from an integrated and presence-based communications experience for voice, video, instant messaging, group chat, conferencing, unified messaging and mobility. Web-based communications enablement, leveraging WebRTC and other modern Web/mobile technologies, brings this experience right into the applications and workflows users use the most.

eZuce was a collaborator in the 2013 Future of Open Source survey. 

Martin Steinmann is the founder and CEO of eZuce Inc., the leading provider of open-source virtualized communications and collaboration. He is also founder of SIPfoundry (SIPfoundry.org), the largest open-source community for telephony and collaboration solutions, which is celebrating its eighth year. 

Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at SandHill.com

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