SIPfoundry to open source SIP-based IP voice software

An open source community dedicated to the development of IP voice applications based on session initiation protocol is to launch Tuesday at the VON 2004 conference.

Called SIPfoundry.org, the group will release IP PBX and IP phone source code that is the underpinning of Pingtel's SIPxchange PBX and Instant Xpressa softphones. The goal is for corporations to use the code to develop their own applications to complement these products as well as for vendors to create commercial applications.

These applications could include interactive voice response, voice mail, conferencing, messaging, presence and collaboration.

SIPfoundry has been set up by Pingtel as a free-standing non-profit group with its own board of directors and, eventually, its own funding. Pingtel plans to fund the group and its Web site through 2004.

Pingtel hopes to make money off the site by selling training, support and documentation to go along with the code itself, says Pingtel President and CEO William Rich. He says this model parallels the Red Hat Linux and Apache open source models under which vendors sell support of open source code.

He says SIPfoundry will support the standards efforts of the IETF and the vendor-led SIP Forum and would not compete with them.

Developers that want to write applications can run them on top of the source code via a standard application-programming interface. The virtue of this, Rich says, is that these applications will be interoperable because they share the same underlying code.

In addition, vendors that have already written commercial applications can modify them to interface with the API, thereby boosting the interoperability of their products, Rich says.

Making its call-control software public will lower the startup costs for application vendors because they won't have to buy the code or develop it on their own.

SIPfoundry will have a seven-member board, which includes three Pingtel employees, Martin Steinmann, Bob Andreasen and Dan Petrie. It also includes Robert Sparks, who works for Dynamic Software, Cullen Jennings of Cisco Systems and Jason Fischl of Purple Comm. These three also are affiliated with other SIP open source projects, Vovita and reciprocate. The seventh board member will be named later.

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