FreePBX Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

FreePBX Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Since its beginning in 1992, when the first audio and video multicasts were broadcast over the Internet, open source telecom has grown well beyond being a hobbyist platform that you play with on the weekends. FreePBX® generates billions of dollars of revenue per year in hardware, software, services and support sales not only for us, but for everyone using and reselling FreePBX. It is used in millions of active systems across the planet.

We realize that the FreePBX EcoSystem, user base, our corporate and enterprise customers and partners need things to be solid, stable and easily replicated. To this end, last week we made a pretty big announcement: Schmooze and FreePBX were acquired by Sangoma.

Everyone at Schmooze is excited about being part of a larger, more mature company with more resources to help us deliver even more value to the users of FreePBX and SIPStation. The acquisition will enable acceleration in the development of the FreePBX open source project, commercial add-ons and our SIPStation services and allow our team to utilize and expand upon the resources already in place at Sangoma.

Acquisitions and mergers of this size come with speculation about the direction the new combined company may take. Couple that with a user base as large as FreePBX and there are sure to be many concerned parties and community members wondering about our intentions and the overall direction and future of FreePBX — as an open source project.

Judging from responses over the weekend, we can see many community members still feel burned by a previous fork of FreePBX: Asterisk@Home, which was purchased by Fonality and turned into Trixbox CE, which was then discontinued and it is no longer available online.

The team here at Schmooze, as a Sangoma Company, understands the reservations you may have. Like you, many of us were in the same boat as you when Fonality took Trixbox in that new direction. Therefore, we are using that same experience to guide our actions in stewarding FreePBX.

“Forking” and “stewarding” a project are not the same thing.

You can be a steward of your own fork, but you can’t be the steward of someone else’s fork. In the case of Trixbox CE, they forked FreePBX. They deviated from the original source code and did not provide fixes/patches/enhancements back to the project.

While Schmooze has also forked FreePBX for our PBXact customers, we have always submitted patches and enhancements back to the original code base. The only major differences between the two products come with the modular subsystem of FreePBX through commercial and PBXact only modules. These modules provide additional services on top of a base FreePBX system, turning your standard FreePBX system into a highly powerful PBXact system, while still enabling an instant security fix or enhancement to the underlying code at the same time as any normal FreePBX user would.

We have made many of these modules available for purchase to augment or add functionality, as you need it into FreePBX without having to completely transition to a full commercial solution. We think this approach is the best of both worlds, providing you with a more dynamic product from which to build your communications solutions.

In terms of the merger, we made a similar announcement just two years ago when the FreePBX trademark and copyrights were acquired by Schmooze. At that time there were also speculations about our intentions when it came to FreePBX in the open source sense. This time around, however, we would like to do a better job of explaining our intentions.

First, the group of people that lead Schmooze and Sangoma are not new arrivals to the FreePBX scene just wanting to take advantage of a popular open source PBX project. We have team members and contributors that have been around since day one (even some that have left and rejoined us). The same team that carried and supported FreePBX through both good times and darker hours of its progression are still onboard and seeing it through this next evolution of its history.

A Quick History of FreePBX

Ten years ago, the FreePBX project was started by a small company called Coalescent Systems as AMP (Asterisk Management Portal) to deliver an easy to use GUI for managing the Asterisk Telephony Engine. The initial release of FreePBX was simply four database tables that wrote out configuration files for Asterisk® to use.

Since its initial release in 2004, the FreePBX Project has grown to become more than just a generator for config files for Asterisk, but an entire platform and communications ecosystem depended upon by millions to provide a stable, feature-rich communications platform upon which businesses and individuals can build their dreams.

FreePBX today encompasses over two hundred and nineteen thousand lines of code and hundreds of tables. It not only writes configs for Asterisk, but provides support for a full PBX environment, from a super-fast installation, allowing you to start configuration in a matter of minutes to ongoing updates to the entire system, including FreePBX, Asterisk, the operating system and the hundreds of other components that make up the system.

Like many open source projects, leaders and core contributors have entered and exited the project as life and interest level fit their needs. For the past five years or so Schmooze has taken a leadership role in pushing the development, and eventually becoming home to many of the most active and talented FreePBX developers from across the planet. Schmooze has allowed people with a passion for VoIP and FreePBX a place to call home. The ability to earn a living from the platform that we love has also been an added benefit. Having a team dedicated to FreePBX has enabled Schmooze to pull in some of the world’s best developers and has produced most of the enhancements added to the platform over the past five years. Over the last 12 months with Schmooze as the steward, FreePBX itself has seen a 185% increase in source code commits and a 160% increase in external contributors.

In order to fund the development of the open source FreePBX and make sure we could keep the development team together, we have produced commercial add-ons, professional support services and partnered with many third party products and vendors to integrate them into the FreePBX EcoSystem. However we haven’t lost sight of what makes FreePBX valuable, which is the open source distribution model. Without the open source platform, the ecosystem would likely not have evolved to spur what is likely billions of dollars of revenue worldwide in software, hardware, services and support currently generated by FreePBX.

FreePBX 12

We would like to point out that over the past year the biggest releases and advancements in the open source product have been introduced. FreePBX 12 was such a significant enhancement to the product that we completely revised the release numbers.

Some of the highlights of the open source features we added to 12 include :

  • The release of the SHMZ OS, an operating system optimized for VoIP
  • With the release of FreePBX 12 we added support for two new versions of Asterisk (12 and 13), including support for the new PJSIP channel driver
  • New centralized user management module
  • New FreePBX Dashboard
  • Integrated additional features in Module Management including support for rolling back upgrades
  • Enhancements to Call Parking enabling direct slot parking
  • Enhancements to Call Recording controls
  • Major rewrites and upgrades to the Core Framework of FreePBX
  • A completely new User Control Panel, built from the ground up, that gives users control of their voicemail, voicemail settings, presence, personal settings, follow me management, call reports and recordings all from a mobile friendly interface, that will scale from desktop to smartphone to tablet

All of the above work is what Schmooze did to enhance FreePBX on the open source side, all of these new features and enhancements can be freely downloaded, and quickly installed using the FreePBX Distro or manually.

We did all of these things with a small team of professionals working long hours to push the envelope of what open source telephony can do.

The FreePBX community has benefited from Schmooze’s stewardship of FreePBX and will continue to benefit from Sangoma’s much broader resources and over 30 years of experience in telecom. We are excited about the stability and credibility this acquisition adds to FreePBX and about the commitment Sangoma has made to maintaining and investing in FreePBX as an open source solution.

By joining forces with Sangoma, Schmooze and the FreePBX project will begin a new era to expand and build upon the world’s most popular open source PBX platform, FreePBX. Over the next year we will keep you in the loop as to any important changes coming to Schmooze in terms of the merger as we figure out the next steps for Schmooze itself. So please join us while we celebrate this next evolution in the history of the FreePBX EcoSystem. We look forward to working with you to continue to build and enhance the FreePBX platform!

-The Sangoma/FreePBX Team

Sangoma Completes the Acquisition of Two Businesses

Sangoma Completes the Acquisition of Two Businesses

 

Acquires All Key Assets of Schmooze, Including FreePBX® and All Shares of RockBochs

 

 

MARKHAM, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Jan. 2, 2015) – Sangoma Technologies Corporation (TSX VENTURE:STC), a leading provider of hardware and software components that enable or enhance IP Communications Systems for both voice and data, today announced two separate transactions, both of which closed January 1, 2015. Sangoma has acquired all the key assets of Schmooze Com Inc and all the outstanding shares of RockBochs Inc.

Schmooze, based in Wisconsin, is the primary developer of FreePBX® and the manager/sponsor of that open source project, one of the mostly widely used IP-PBXs on the planet with millions of installs around the globe. Schmooze offers chargeable, add-on commercial modules, support services, accompanying hardware to complement FreePBX and an integrated SIP trunking service (under the SIPStation brand name) to this huge base of FreePBX users.

RockBochs, based in Minnesota, offers Fax-over-IP monthly service, including developing its own FoIP customer premise equipment and offers semi-custom telecom appliances that allow customers to install their own communications software on a purpose-built server.

“Over recent years, Sangoma has been focused on introducing new products and services to the market and offering them to a wider cross section of customer segments,” said Bill Wignall, President and CEO of Sangoma. Wignall continued, “These acquisitions are a logical next step on that strategic path, will contribute natural product line extensions with a solid strategic fit, and complement our organic growth in sales of new products. Sangoma has evolved from telephony cards with the addition of gateways, SBCs, a suite of products for the Lync ecosystem, tapping, and several others. So perhaps it’s not surprising that some of our customers have been asking for Sangoma to offer a PBX. For those customers who have asked for a Sangoma-supported PBX, we can now meet that need with an Open Source or Commercial variant of FreePBX. For those who prefer to build or install their own PBX software, we of course remain committed to supporting such partners as we always have, and this includes providing industry-leading telephony cards for integration inside their PBX servers, appliances which allows partners to install their PBX software on our hardware platforms, as well as gateways and SBCs for connections to the PSTN and IP-based networks. Further, we can now offer both SIP trunking service to the community of millions of FreePBX users, and Fax-over-IP services, both of which will be expanded through the use of Sangoma’s network of partners around the world. We’ve been exploring ways to accelerate growth and make better use of our cash, and these transactions do that, and are expected to significantly expand our growing software and services business by adding critical new sources of recurring revenue. I’m very pleased to have the Schmooze and RockBochs teams, products, and customers joining the Sangoma family.”

The Schmooze and RockBochs product lines are expected to become an integral part of the Sangoma portfolio over the coming year. The acquisitions will enable acceleration in the development of FreePBX and SIPStation capabilities and in the Fax-over-IP services from RockBochs. It is also expected to lead to integration of Sangoma technologies inside those offerings, such as incorporating Sangoma’s SBC functionality inside FreePBX and the RockBochs appliances, for example.

Sangoma has been a pioneer in the open source telecom space for many, many years and was a key contributor to helping make Asterisk® a dependable business communications technology. The company understands and appreciates the space and remains fully committed to the open source community. The Schmooze transaction is expected to make it easier for users of FreePBX to obtain the software from Sangoma and its channel partners, and we anticipate them being able to count on the industry-leading reputation of Sangoma’s “because it must work” products to interoperate even more elegantly with FreePBX—perhaps the most widely used Asterisk-based PBX in the world.

“For companies that use FreePBX directly or as part of a solution they develop, Sangoma will seek to accelerate the innovation that they’ve come to value from us as the leaders of the project over the last many years,” said Tony Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Schmooze. He continued, “The FreePBX community should benefit from the project being backed by a larger, mature public company with much broader resources and over 30 years of experience in telecom and a long pedigree in open source. We are excited about the stability and credibility this adds to the project and I expect that FreePBX users will really appreciate it.”

On a combined basis, the acquired businesses will have generated between $4.5 and $5 million in revenue during calendar 2014 and both have been historically profitable. Integrated into Sangoma, we expect these acquisitions to be accretive to earnings immediately.

The Company paid initial aggregate consideration of US$4 million in cash, issued 3,650,000 common shares to Schmooze shareholders for a value of US$1 million and entered into earn-out arrangements for contingent consideration of up to US$1.5 million if certain revenue targets are achieved.

In conjunction with these transactions the Company has established a $2.5 million operating line of credit, secured by a general security interest on assets, to ensure that it continues to have the flexibility to grow.

Management will discuss these acquisitions more fully on its second quarter conference call, to be scheduled at the time results for the quarter ending December 31, 2014 are released to the market.

About Sangoma Technologies Corporation

Sangoma is a leading provider of hardware and software products that enable or enhance IP Communications Systems for both telecom and datacom applications. Enterprises, SMBs and Carriers in over 150 countries rely on Sangoma’s technology as part of their mission critical infrastructures. Through its worldwide network of Distribution Partners, Sangoma delivers the industry’s best engineered, highest quality products, and offers the industry’s first lifetime warranty. The product line includes data and telecom boards for media and signal processing as well as gateway appliances and software.

Founded in 1984, Sangoma Technologies Corporation is publicly traded on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX VENTURE:STC). Additional information on Sangoma can be found at:www.sangoma.com.

Asterisk® is a trademark of Digium, Inc. FreePBX is a trademark of Sangoma Technologies.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the future success of our business, development strategies and future opportunities.

Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning estimates of expected expenditures, statements relating to expected future production and cash flows, and other statements which are not historical facts. When used in this document, the words such as “could”, “plan”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend”, “may”, “potential”, “should” and similar expressions indicate forward-looking statements.

Although Sangoma believes that its expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, such statements involve risks and uncertainties and no assurance can be given that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date that the statements are made, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements. Sangoma undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements if circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions should change except as required by law.

Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are based will occur. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve numerous assumptions, known and unknown risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, that contribute to the possibility that the predictions, forecasts, projections and other events contemplated by the forward-looking statements will not occur. Although Sangoma believes that the expectations represented by such forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct as these expectations are inherently subject to business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies. Some of the risks and other factors which could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements contained in the management’s discussion and analysis include, but are not limited to changes in exchange rate between the Canadian Dollar and other currencies, changes in technology, changes in the business climate, changes in the regulatory environment, the decline in the importance of the PSTN and new competitive pressures. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.