We will see some fundamental changes happening for PBX systems running on customer premises over the next few years. Those changes will drive most companies away from running PC server instances towards either hosted PBX or PBX appliances. Hosted PBX has been discussed a lot. We need to take another look at customer premises PBX.
Today, around 80 % of the PBX system used world wide are still run on customer premises. While we all share the vision that all of that will be hosted on day, there are still many cases where customer premises is the preferred location for the telephone system. Routers have already started to absorb the PBX functionality - just like they come with a DHCP server they will also come with a PBX service. We have addressed that need with the Vodia IOP device. In cases where administrators are hesitant swapping out their firewall, the alternative is to use an appliance that runs the PBX in a separate instance.
Because of this, we have made a small device called "Vodia IOP". It stands for I/O (well this is kinda fashion these days) on a Raspberry Pi - thus the "P" at the end. It is spelled "I-Oh-Pi". It is based on the Raspberry Pi hardware, which has evolved over the years to a powerful and reliable platform or embedded computing. The Pi is today able to run 16 concurrent calls, which is more than enough even for medium-size companies; the number of connected VoIP phones does not really matter.
We included a 64 GB memory card in the device. This has enough space even for extensive call recording. Depending on the used audio format, this can contain as much as 10,000 hours of call recording. The card is industrial strength, reducing the risk of loosing the device. If needed, administrators can access the file system over the network - the Pi is just another Linux computer.
IOP resides in a plastic that was specifically made for Vodia. While the Pi platform has reached a great level in terms of reliability and performance, we did not find any suitable housing that conveys that message to the end customer. Because of this we have asked a design company to come up with a housing that can be easily mounted on a board or even under a office table.
The software on the IOP does not differ from the software compiled for other operating systems. It comes with a preinstalled 4-concurrent call license that serves the basic needs of an office today. For more advanced features, the Vodia PBX license can be applied to the device.
There is however a change happening the way PBX software is sold on premises. The typical model for hosted PBX is a post-paid, monthly usage fee that often includes other services. Because hosted PBX comes in many cases with a VoIP phone the price is based on the extension; the hardware prohibits call-based pricing models or flat rates for domains. But also for customer premises PBX, the PBX is also moving to recurring revenue models. While many purchasing departments do the math and prefer one-time license purchases that option is simply going away for the PBX. Recurring revenue is already a reality for office software, CRM, support systems, design software, accounting software and many other software packages that were sold in a license not too long ago. Even the operating system itself becomes a recurring revenue cost these days. In countries where there is no VAT charge for software, recurring revenues are moving to monthly payments. In counties where VAT must be applied also for PBX software, companies prefer quarterly or yearly payments to reduce the booking overhead.