Commercial Modules, Support Provided, Upcoming Changes

Commercial Modules, Support Provided, Upcoming Changes

FreePBX has grown from dozens of modules a few years ago to hundreds of modules today (it’s over 100) the bulk of them part of the open source foundation that makes up this great project. We’re constantly adding new functionality, whether new features to existing modules, brand new open source modules, or the occasional introduction of a new commercial module within the mix.

What determines Commercial vs. Open Source for New Module Development?

Although most of our development resource are spent maintaining and building upon the core open source project, we always evaluate and think hard if a new module should be part of the open source foundation or introduced as commercial. The open source usually wins :). However, there are a number of specific or vertical market needs that usually come with much higher maintenance costs or the need for a higher then normal commercially acceptable response time in addressing issues. Examples of these are the High Availability Module and End Point Manager. In order to keep the bulk of our development efforts focused on the open source foundation, we evaluate these ‘special needs’ areas when deciding if a module should be commercial to ensure there is a proper revenue stream to create, maintain, and support these specialty components. The alternative would otherwise result in all of our time servicing these, used by a much smaller population of users, at the expense of the mainstream code base used by everyone.

Commercial Module Licensing and Continued Support

Most commercial modules are sold with a 25-year license and one year of updates for bug fixes and new features. This model is very standard in the software industry. It means your module will continue to run beyond the first year, but if you want to reap the benefits of the ongoing development and resulting enhancements you will have to pay a small fee after that to keep getting those updates. Otherwise, you can continue using what you have, it WILL continue to function fine.

Up until now, we have never provided a mechanism to buy that continued support after the first year, despite many customers asking us how they can purchase it. Instead, we’ve simply continued to give you those updates for free. With commercial modules entering into their fifth year, the population has exploded with well over 100,000 such modules out there. The support requests related to this growth has increased to the point where we must start providing you the ability to purchase a renewal contract if you want to continue receiving updates and support for them. The alternative of continuing to give this away free would result in our resources being taken away from the core project, which simply hurts everyone and the project as a whole!

What does this change mean and how will it impact you?

For those of you with modules that are more then one year old meaning the year of updates has already expired, we will give you another two weeks free, through November 16th, where you can update any of those modules as has been the case since you purchased them. We’ll attempt to email you with this information proactively based on your portal contact information. (What … doesn’t everyone just follow our blog that we have to email? :)) Furthermore, we’ll provide you with a 15% discount incentive to purchase renewals in the next two week if you renew from this portal link and use discount code RENEWALS through November 15th. For any such renewals, your new anniversary date will be based on a November 16th expiration. This means, if you purchase a one-year renewal whether before or after November 16th, that renewal will be good through November 16th, 2016.

If you’ve purchased a module in the last 12 months you’ll continue to get updates until the anniversary date of your purchase. You’ll be notified in advance inside of Module Admin when you have modules that soon need renewals where you can make the purchases directly. You can also navigate to the portal to see a comprehensive view of all your module licenses on all your deployments, when they will need renewals, and have the ability to renew any of them there whether they have already expired or you just recent purchased them. Furthermore, the RENEWALS incentive is not only good for already expired renewals, you can be proactive and take advantage of it now even if you just bought a module yesterday! (You must use the portal to take advantage of the 15% promotion, from within FreePBX it will not be available.)

After November 16th, if you choose not to renew and there are updates available for those modules installed on your system, you will still be notified of the updates. You will have the option of purchasing a renewal in order to obtain them, which you can do right from the GUI.

Keeping FreePBX thriving for everyone

The FreePBX team is intensely dedicated to the ongoing success of this project and works tirelessly to make sure you continue to have a world class, feature rich and future proof system to bank your business and your customers’ businesses on. We are grateful to the community members who participate in the project – feeding ideas, code and project help to keep us moving forward. This change being announced will go a long way in assuring we can continue to do that. Whether you’re a consumer of these specialized modules or not, all of you depend on the continued investment in the core project’s long term viability. Enabling our ability to fund the ongoing support of these modules through renewals that have always been part of the licensing terms in our EULA will assure that we can continue providing the resources needed for all sides of the project and benefit everyone!

Renewing from FreePBX

When in FreePBX, if Renewals are coming up within 3 months, you can purchase them directly from the GUI. You will see Renewals that are available as seen in the following image.



Upon clicking the Renewal button it will be added to your cart which you can view and go through the checkout process as shown:



When purchasing from portal, you have the option of renewing modules from multiple deployments in once checkout process if needed, AND you can take advantage of the RENEWALS discount code:


You are now set to continue receiving all the new enhancements (and bug fixes) that we continue to provide to you in these important modules that you depend on!

Notable Replies

  1. avayax:

    answers to your questions:

    • November 16th, 2015 is the "earliest" expiration date that anyone has, whether you purchased the module 13 months ago or 4 years ago. If you choose not to update, and then 1.5 years later in May, 2017 you decide to update, you would have to purchase 2 years of updates which would cover you through Nov 15th, 2017. That would be the case even if you purchased your module 4 years ago.
    • We understand your request concerning bundles. At this time we don't plan on having bundle level upgrades and for some users that is preferable as they may not be using all the modules in that bundle and may not want to pay for renewals for all of them. We will be evolving the renewal purchase process though to make it easier to manage multiple renewals.
    • It is very possible that upgrading to a new major version of FreePBX will require newer versions of commercial modules since it is during major version upgrades that underlying functionality changes in such a way that can make some modules have to change. It is not always a given, it really depends on what the base changes are for the new FreePBX version. The newest version, FreePBX 13, is an example where they would have to be updated because of the significant changes done to version 13 which required every module to be modified. That is not always the case though. We will also be modifying the version upgrade tools to warn of such changes and possible requirement.
  2. I would like to take this moment to ask that you institute an "upgrade" or "trade in" process for commercial modules that offers a discount to users who are looking to step up to purchasing more modules. This is something I've ran into and asked your support. It can be very upsetting to purchase System Builder Plus to realize you really should have just went all out on Call Center Builder because you need VQ Plus and/or QXact Reports. Perhaps that realization comes a month in, maybe it comes 2 years in. I know a lot of people that use FreePBX don't do telephony all day, every day. It is very easy to make a mistake that basically makes your $525 purchase useless and requires you to spend $1275 all over again (or in the case I gave $475+$795, at which point you might as well just by the $1275 call center bundle).

    Now onto this news. When I saw the blog post on this it was before the email or this forum post. I checked all over other forums as well looking to see if anyone was discussing it. It seems like now there is some discussing so I can bring up some of my concerns.

    1. Major Security Vulnerabilities. If plans haven't been made to allow patching of major security issues that might arise in commercial modules without requiring someone to purchase renewals, I STRONGLY recommend you reconsider.
    2. EPM. How is this going to work with EPM? Firmware updates won't get pushed to me anymore after the first year? New phones won't show anymore after the year? For me, I use the same phones for a LONG time, they really don't change often and there are only a handful of popular brands and models anyway. But firmware is something I constantly update because it is a simple way to make sure new features and bug fixes get pushed to phones. Yealink is what I use. Some of Yealinks firmware updates even address issues the phones have with FreePBX and other commercial modules. If this stops I'll have to consider looking for a way to upload firmware to EPM on my own (is that even possible?).
    3. System Admin Pro. So after the first year, does the ability to upgrade FreePBX through the GUI stop? I've had a handful of issues with it to begin with (updates saying they complete but nothing actually happens or updates not showing up in the GUI and having to do them manually anyway).
    4. As someone else mentioned, bugs. I really hope that the "year" isn't some hardcoded thing because if you guys release a module update that breaks something or introduces a substantial bug, people are going to get very upset that something they paid for doesn't work. People are much more forgiving of these issues when you can submit a bug report and know that more then likely someone will fix it and it will get pushed to you through a module update. When that stops being the case people are going to be much less forgiving of issues that prevent the module from doing what it is supposed to do. Also realize that this will surely cause a decrease in the number of users running the most "recent" modules, which means less testers and less bug reports, but not necessarily less bugs.

    I'll stop here as I have work to get to. But I sure hope this doesn't negatively effect my deployments.

  3. JayG30:

    We have mechanisms capable of addressing security issues if a major vulnerability in a commerical module surfaces that we feel needs to get out to everyone.

    Andrew addressed EPM above.

    Sysadmin Pro is the same a Sysadmin with some advanced features enabled if you get the pro version. Sysadmin is also the module that is required to interoperate with the licensing system as well as other fundamental capabilities it provides to both commercial modules and some Open Source modules such as firewall. As such, in its current state there is no renewal needed for it and you will continue to be able to get updates for it since everything else depends on it.

    On your point 4, if you are referring to outside bugs that break an exisitng commercial module, as already addressed, such bugs are almost always a bug in the source outside of the commecial module and as such are fixed there, not in the commercial module. If you're referring to releasing a new commecial module version that introduces a bug, that is always possible, software has bugs, in all industries. We try hard to test and avoid them but they do occur. As I've indicated elsewhere, this is not a "change" as the license has always only included 1 year of updates, consistent with lots of software. In many cases with other licenses, you can't even get support after a few months. We tie both the renewals and support access to the renewal license so we don't create that restriction.

    You are right that there will be some impact on people not downloading the new modules. Given our stats and the general industry trend, we don't anticpate this changing substantially. There are many people who don't run the latest simply because "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mentalities or they are just too busy and the PBX is sitting in a closet. This isn't going to change anything for that contingent. There are also many people who do upgrade whether to keep current, get new features, etc. And what's common to everyone is an expectation of strong commercial / mission critical support of the commerical module base and the FreePBX Open Source base that it runs on. This ensures that we can deliver on that and it's why it's always been part of the licensing.

  4. Thanks. Looks like that fixed it. I paid on November 5 so it definitely wasn't a 24 hour wait issue. Renew icon and tab gone from the modules. Sysadmin is now showing the new dates as well.

    One more issue though. Sysadmin is still showing that updates expire on 16 November. My copy of UCP for EPM is also showing an expiry date of 1 Dec 2015. Neither of these modules are available for renewal in either Module Admin or the Portal.

  5. Ahh those need to be hidden as they dont have renewals. Can you open a bug report at for us on that.

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