A few months ago I wrote a piece on open source unified communications (UC) options that was pretty well-received – or at least quite a few people read it – so I thought I’d dig into the topic again and see if I could flesh it out a bit more.
BitRix24 - Open Source UC and a Lot More
In diving in a second time, I came across one company that I had never heard of before, BitRix24. BitRix24 uses a commercial open source model, meaning you get the source code but must buy a license. And it has open APIs for others to add extensions to their product. There’s also a cloud-based, online version.
Mainly, though, it just looks interesting for anyone who’s looking at UC solutions because it is quite extensive. And the cloud-based version is inexpensive – free for up to 12 users and topping out at $199 per month for unlimited employees.
BitRix24 is a full-featured collaboration suite, encompassing more than 35 tools. It has the standard telephony, videoconferencing, chat, calendars and email along with a customer relationship management tool and a social network component, for internal use (with links to public social sites, if you so choose).
The suite includes tools for task management, company drive, document sharing and time tracking, along with a mobile application. There’s also a human resources management system (HRMS) component. (The whole time I was researching this all I could think of was the great mall car chase scene from the Blues Brothers movie, where Jake says, “This place has got everything.”)
The company claims some 3.5 million users at more than 500,000 organizations worldwide. Yet, as a testimonial on its web site from AJ Kumar of Forbes.com says, “For some reason, Bitrix24 isn’t widely known — and I think that’s a shame.”
I’m not sure whether it’s a shame or not, but BitRix24 certainly seems worth checking out for anyone in the market for a UC solution, especially if you can use some of the many add-ons.
eZuce - Moving Forward With Their Own Open Source UC Product
Another UC implementation that seems fully featured is eZuce’s Uniteme (formerly known as openUC). Uniteme has its roots in the SIPfoundry open source platform, which I covered in the original piece, although eZuce has since come up with its own open source project, sipXcom. As the sipXcom web site explains:
sipXcom is a modular and scalable communications solution for enterprises of all sizes. It provides a highly available SIP routing core integrated with a suite of communications services all managed through a unified web based management application. sipXcom provides traditional PBX telephony services integrated with instant messaging, and allows the use of advanced communications tools like video calling, HD conference bridging and instant messaging.
eZuce offers different versions of Uniteme, with varying features for enterprise, business, desktop, mobile and Outlook (although the company website does not detail the exact features each includes). The company claims the software is designed to consume fewer system resources while being exceptionally easy to deploy and manage.
This product has undergone quite a few changes since I originally came across it back in January. I’ll be doing a follow-up soon once I get all the details from the company.
Kolab - Open Source UC 'Light'
I’ll call Kolab a lightweight open source UC solution. I came across it when writing my original piece on open source UC software but didn’t include it because it just doesn’t have many of the components that typically make up a UC solution, such as voice and video support.
What it does include is email, contacts and calendar software and allows for sharing of tasks, files and notes. It’s available as software you can install on your own servers, or as a hosted service called KolabNow, based in Switzerland. Kolab works with any sort of client device, at least according to the company’s web site. Pricing for the hosted version seems reasonable, at less than $5 per user – presumably less in bulk.
OnState Communications: We Hardly Knew Ye
I’ll toss in one more as a sort of cautionary tale. I came across a company called OnState Communications in the Google Apps Marketplace. It purports to offer tools that help companies build a “virtual telecom solution” on top of Google Apps. Here’s how its listing in the Google Apps Marketplace reads:
Turn Google into your virtual telecom solution! With OnState and Google Apps, you can: • Unify communications across voice, video, and chat • Understand who is contacting you, why, and monitor the quality of service • Combine Google Apps with other communication and collaboration devices, including SIP, Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, and others • Ensure customers and prospects reach the appropriate team member based on assigned skills, availability, and business rules
Sounds promising, right? Except when you click on the “Vendor website” link, which brings you to onstate.com, you quickly learn that Onstate.com now offers all manner of games, for Android, IOS and online. There’s Ground Survival 3D, Bootcamp 3D, Insect Invasion 3D and lots more. No mention of UC, however.
As it turns out, OnState Communications was acquired by TeleTech Holdings, Inc. in 2012. TeleTech sells customer engagement solutions that help companies track customers. But there’s no mention of UC here, either, so apparently you’ll have to look elsewhere for an open source UC solution.