Pingtel Goes Open Source with IP Telephony Platform

Small Massachusetts company forms a nonprofit, SIPfoundry, to build on past projects and serve as an information repository for open-source VOIP development.

IP telephony veterans on Monday will launch what is perhaps the first serious initiative to create a large open-source community around Voice over IP.

As the networking industry moves toward a software model for IP PBXs, tiny Pingtel Corp. is spearheading the initiative by releasing its Session Initiation Protocol software platform into the open-source world and forming a nonprofit organization charged with providing the legal and technical foundation for advancing open-source work. Its mission: to do for IP telephony what Apache and Linux have done for enterprise servers.

The effort, which will debut next week at the Voice over Networks conference in Santa Clara, Calif., pulls together the work of several open-source projects with their own associated communities. Those include the Vovida project, an open-source SIP effort used by Vonage, as well as reSIPprocate, which provides an SIP stack and tool kit allowing any developer to build applications that use SIP in order to initiate a session and establish communication.

Pingtel formed the SIPfoundry nonprofit organization to shepherd efforts to create open-source Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, messaging, presence and collaboration software. A proposed board of directors for the nonprofit comprises several people who have worked on open-source IP telephony projects, including Robert Sparks, Cullen Jennings and Jason Fischl of the reSIProcate and Vovida projects; Bob Andreasen and Dan Petrie of Pingtel; Martin Steinmann of St Paul Venture Capital; and an additional member still to be decided.

The newly formed board will host its first public meeting next week at the VON conference.

SIPfoundry aims to represent the SIP community and offer the premier information repository for the development of VoIP, said Martin Steinmann, a partner of St. Paul Venture Capital in Woburn, Mass.

"It is a nonprofit company we incorporated as a completely independent entity to be the overall umbrella organization to care for SIP-based activities in the open-source community," Steinmann said. "Its governance structure is open to others to join and participate in the effort going forward."

Steinmann said he believes that by drawing on the work already performed in other SIP communities of interest, SIPfoundry has a "jump start" on the process of building the open-source initiative.

"By bringing together existing functioning communities that have proven they can deliver on key components of the infrastructure, [SIPfoundry] has the critical mass," he said.

SIPfoundry also will work to ensure interoperability of implementations "across a broader set of industry players," Steinmann added.

Next Page: The nonprofit will go live with its Web site next week.