My Voice (over IP)

Serge Forest is a an industry veteran and successful entrepreneur in the market of software for telecom and Contact Center operators. This blog comments on company initiatives, industry trends, technology and business.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moving on...

It's now public knowledge. I'm leaving Sangoma/Paraxip. See the press release.

I have co-founded Paraxip almost 7 years ago and lead it through it's inception, rocky start, financing and growth of its products and markets. I ended up selling Paraxip to Sangoma in 2008 in what seems to be a great win-win transaction, even nearly 2 years after the fact. We have integrated the Paraxip team, products and operations into Sangoma for the benefit of both organizations.

I then spent the last year as VP of Marketing for Sangoma, where I learned so much and worked with a fabulous team. I think we managed to deliver on a solution-oriented and partner-focused marketing and product management strategy. It was a great experience, but it's now time to move on.

The very small software and services startup I am joining is poised for success, I believe. I will comment more on that later when this part is formally announced. One thing I can say however is that I am energized about the idea of "doing it all over again". The thrill of taking a nascent organization, with very little means, and taking them to a status of an international leader in their specific market is one that can't be beat..

That being said, I am very sad to leave great co-workers and friends at Sangoma/Paraxip. I wish them the best of luck...I know they will be successful!

My last day at Sangoma will be May 7. More on my next move later...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Key learnings in marketing...

Next week, it will be the first anniversary of my appointment as VP of Marketing at Sangoma. This causes me to take a few moments to reflect on key learnings from these past few months. I had never done marketing full time before, so some hits and some misses were expected. So, what have I personally learned or experienced during the last 12 months? There is a short list below. A lot of the items below just fall under the 'common sense' category, but in the fast pace of our work life these days, it's always good to sit down and actually write them down...

- Marketing is much more than brochures! Some people out there think marketing is about glossies and press releases. Ouch! I think of marketing with a big 'M'. It's the art and science of attacking the market to achieve the best possible business results. As such, it encompasses product strategy, go-to-market model, partner programs, corporate marketing, and of course all the 'traditional' product marketing items...

- Marketing is all about telling stories. If some marketing item is just out there, not connected to your story...drop it! It will just confuse everyone. The stories need to be true of course, but told in a light that is meaningful to the particular audience you are targeting. Stories will be slightly different for customers, partners, media, analysts, investors, employees, etc. Know your audience...

- You can't do everything. No matter how large or small your team, you cannot do everything you can think of. It's much easier to think of programs and events, than to actually implement and maintain them. No, it's not absolutely critical to have engraved pens or new T-Shirts available for the upcoming event. Focus on the important stuff that will get you significant business results!

- To know how customers perceive you and how you can improve, call them up, hold live events and visit them often. To know how the market perceives you and how you can improve, get online now and often! Use analytics. Get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Get web alerts. Information is key....And then actually write down the key trends (from customers and from the market) and make a plan to address them. Make it a regular habit. It's good to collect info, but if you never analyze it and make plans to address, it is worthless.

As I said, all of the above is common sense, but it's good to reflect once in a while and summarize our learnings. It allows us to internalize them, and then move on to the next steps...

Monday, January 18, 2010

IT Expo East in Miami

It's a busy week this week. I'm at the Internet Telephony Expo East 2010 in Miami. We have the tradeshow where we have 6 application partners and 2 distributors in our booth (#601, please drop by if you are in Miami), a side Latin America partner 'mini-conference', several briefings with analysts and media representatives, as well as countless other partner and customer meetings. So far, it's a very successful and busy conference for Sangoma.

And on top of that, we've just completed our third major announcement for this week. Let's do a quick recap of the announcements.

  • Tuesday: Sangoma helps IndustryDynamics Enter Key Vertical Markets. Skype, corporate IP Telephony, existing PBX'es... Ever wondered how leading Hospitality and Education organizations can actually leverage the combination of these diverse technologies, as opposed to simply being overwhelmed by them? Sangoma and IndustryDynamics are announcing significant customer adoption of the VoiceGear Solution, which integrates Skype seamlessly with other types of corporate communications, in the education and hospitality verticals.
  • Wednesday: inConcert Integrates NetBorder Call Analyzer to Boost Productivity of Outbound Call Centers. Following on the recent customer wins for Sangoma's NetBorder Call Analyzer product, this most recent announcement unveils that inConcert, a leading Contact Center solution provider in Latin America, is now also standardizing on our leading Call Progress Analysis (CPA) capabilities. NetBorder provides the world's most advanced CPA, which leads to improved automation of outbound calling campaigns and significant operational cost reductions in our customers' call centers.
  • Thursday: Sangoma Renews Commitment to the FreeSWITCH IP Telephony Open Source Project. Sangoma increases its support of the FreeSWICTH project, because we believe this is one of the best projects out there for telephony developers. The scale and breadth of applications that can be developed on FreeSWITCH seems unmatched, so we believe at Sangoma that it's important for us to nurture the project and its community.

Overall, it's a very important week for Sangoma to kick off 2010. This week's announcement all go in the same direction: Sangoma thrives in enabling our application partners develop new applications that deliver true business value to enterprises and contact centers...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teleperformance chooses NetBorder

Today, Sangoma announced that Teleperformance, the world's largest outsourcer of customer service, has selected NetBorder for some of its global outbound call center operations. This is a fabulous endorsement for Sangoma's contact center product line (acquired through the Paraxip deal last year). Check out the press release here.

Teleperformance went through extensive testing and trials, and found that our Call Progress Analysis (CPA) capabilities within our award-winning NetBorder Call Analyzer product were the best in their class. CPA is a process by which an automated application can classify the calls by the 'type of device' that answered the call (live person, voice mail system, answering machine, fax machine, etc). Based on this real-time analysis, automated dialers can decide how to treat the call (transfer immediately to a live agent, remove the number from the list, call back later, etc). A CPA engine such as NetBorder Call Analyzer needs to be fast and accurate. The fastest and most accurate CPA is, the more automated the dialing process can be, which means the agents get more business done and the contact centers are more profitable.

The following article posted last week explains how this works:

Sangoma/Paraxip has had great success with NetBorder in very large and sophisticated Contact Center accounts. It's good that we have received permission from Teleperformance in announcing our partnership and can finally tell the world about it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

B601 Launch at Astricon

Today, Sangoma is announcing the launch of its newest hybrid telephony card at Astricon 2009 in Glendale Arizona. The new B601 integrates a Digital interface (T1/E1) with a few analog ports (4 FXO, 1 FXS) all on a single, small PCI/PCIe card. This allows PBX platform vendors to deliver solutions that are more compact and even more cost effective than before. Our partner Rockbochs has integrated the board in one of its Asterisk-based PBX appliances and is ready to take orders on an integrated box that includes this new card.

We’re also fortunate to have a few product reviews by some of our online retailer partners. Look for reviews to be posted on the web in the next while.

If you are a PBX system developer or reseller, you need to have a look at this product. Check it out at

Sangoma in Brazil

This week, Sangoma is participating in FutureCom in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company has recently increased its presence and marketing efforts in Latin America and in particular in Brazil, with the announcement of a new distributor, the participation at two important tradeshows (Encontro VoIP Center in September and FutureCom this week), and some key customer announcements. Today, Sangoma is announcing that partner Digivox has deployed 6,000 ports of IVR based on Asterisk Open Source Telephony and Sangoma cards, at Banco do Brazil, the country's largest financial institution. The systems will processs 35 million cals per month. That is truly impressive...

Sangoma has had terrific customer successes in this country, from telephony operators using Sangoma's SS7-to-SIP solution to provide VoIP termination to both customers and enterprises, all the way to packaged PBX and IVR solutions built on our leading telephony interface cards. Unfortunately, we've been a bit too quiet about it and in my recent visit in Sao Paulo, I found that the Sangoma brand, although well respected, was not prevalent enough. People just did not know enough about our company and products. Further, it seemed that people had an impression that the products were costly and difficult to obtain in Brazil. With our new distributor ShopNetworks, the product is now readily available, fully serviced locally and now more affordable than ever. As for the lack of visibility from Sangoma, this is now changing rapidly, with key announcements and better participation in local events.

Digivox's deployment at Banco do Brazil is impressive and these guys have a lot more going on wth key financial institutions in Latin America. We'r glad to have them standardize their IVR and PBX solutions on Sangoma hardware. We're also convinced that a lot more companies will start seeing the benefit of open source telephony used in conjunction with our cards...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The great big fish...

Today, Sangoma proudly announced that we are partnering with internet security giant Barracuda Networks to deliver a new set of IP-PBX appliances, via their wholly owned subsidiary Cudatel. This is unchartered territory for Barracuda in the voice world, but I think they’ll be as successful as they have been in other segments. Barracuda is getting into the market very wisely. They focus on their core competency, which is to design, manufacture and market tightly integrated appliances that solve critical business problems with great ease-of-use and cost effectiveness. They have a long-standing tradition of tapping into and contributing to open source projects, and this most recent project is no exception. Barracuda has partnered with the FreeSWITCH project. It’s a very high-quality communication software platform that Sangoma has been supporting for years. We’re glad to see a professional organization like Barracuda embrace and support a quality open source project like FreeSWITCH. This a clear win for both organizations, and I think both will grow significantly from their association.

We’re very proud to say that Sangoma will supply the telephony cards inside the Cudatel appliances. With our small form-factor, unmatched compatibility / wide protocol support within FreeSWTICH, and our quality hardware design, we were meant to live inside that appliance…

So watch out for two things in the coming months: Barracuda will aggressively market this new appliance and enter the big world of voice communications; and we believe FreeSWITCH will blossom and grow quite fast as an open source telephony platform. And of course, Sangoma is a big part of both of these projects…

Monday, August 31, 2009

NBE now available on Linux

Today, Sangoma launched its NetBorder Express (NBE) Gateway product on the Linux operating system. The Windows version has been available for a long time, and has been successfully integrated and deployed by leading application vendors worldwide. Here are just a few of the application vendors who have adopted NBE on Windows that we have announced in the recent months: 3CX, Brekeke, Dialexia, Genesys, PBXnSIP, VoiceServe, Voxeo, … And there are plenty of others that we can’t name at this time. Our Linux announcement today complements the products’ platform compatibility and will serve many Linux-based SIP applications.

One of the leading customers for this is pbxnsip. While Sangoma and pbxnsip have served joint customers in Windows for a while now, the Linux-based NBE takes the partnership to a whole new level. pbxnsip has been anticipating this NBE product to launch a new set of all-in-one, cost effective PBX appliances that are designed around NBE. Having a great customer launch products based on NBE for Linux is pretty cool way for us get out of the gate!

NBE provides telephony interfaces, from 2 analog ports all the way to 960 digital ports on a single system, to any SIP-based application. The product includes commercial telephony protocol stacks, a management interface for installation, configuration and control. Additionally, NBE offers users a flexible routing rules engine to implement SIP-based load balancing and failover. And the product talks standard SIP, so it can talk to any app that supports that protocol, whether it is a proprietary app or an open source app.

Of course, Sangoma telephony cards can still be used directly with popular open-source projects such as Asterisk, FreeSwitch and others without NetBorder Express; but if one wants the extra scalability (up to 960 ports per system), management and configurability, one can now choose to use NBE on Linux to interface with their Open Source applications, as opposed to the traditional interface for these cards (ZAPTEL and others). We think NBE is a great complement to open source telephony projects as well as commercial products.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting the Fax Straight

Today, Sangoma and Commetrex announced that the companies are working together to deliver fax-server solutions to OEMs. This is significant in two ways: First it means Commetrex is letting go of its own TDM interface hardware in favor of Sangoma’s more complete and more cost effective TDM board product line. Second, it means Sangoma now has a reputable solution partner in the fax server space, selling into a market that just wasn’t seriously touched by Sangoma before. This is clearly a win-win proposition!

Here is how Tom Ray from Commetrex explains their decision process… “For years, Commetrex has shipped a limited range of PCI telephony boards, so this announcement marks a major shift in the company’s strategy. We have recently landed some significant design wins in the IP enterprise-fax market with BladeWare’s value proposition of high function and performance with an unbeatable price. But every one of these OEMs would like to enjoy similar competitive advantages when a PSTN interface is required. These OEMs have a worldwide customer base; systems range from two to hundreds of ports. This means not just analog and E1/T1 boards, but ISDN PRI and BRI for the EU market, plus global homologations. We knew we had to get there, and get there fast. Then the Sangoma folks told us that not only did they already have everything we needed, but that they could sell it to us for less than we could produce it. We were sold! Another consideration was Sangoma’s support for Windows. There are multiple sources for telephony interface boards, but many only support Linux. Sangoma’s support for Windows and Linux, and their simplified APIs with ISDN PRI support made the decision even easier.”

One can check out the Commetrex offering at

Everyone is excited about this one. I hope it gets the success we anticipate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where are the blog posts?

Some have noticed that my blogging rate has slowed down in the last few weeks. It's been extraordinarily busy at Sangoma. But I'm glad to report all the hard work we put in marketing is really paying off. Interest in our company has never been higher, and we continuously have new channels and applications using our products...

What I lack in blog entry posts, I make up in interviews it seems. So let me just point to some recent posts here:

- Interview with Kerry Garrison at VoIPStore:
- Article by VoIP Planet:

Of course, I continue providing regular updates on Twitter, so if you want more up-to-the-minute information, please follow me at:

I'll be off the blogs for a few weeks. I'll be taking a vacation at the end of next week. This year, the family is driving along the coast in California. I'll be back on the blog scene in early August...