OpenVBX: telephony for the rest of us.

Just stumbled on to the OpenVBX project from Twilio. It seems like another classic case of what was once highly complex, expensive proprietary technology at the edges of networks becoming commoditized in order to monetize the connective technology in the middle. Literally, in the course of the past few minutes, I set up a simple IVR for my family, a call forwarding system for me, so that the right phone rings at the right time, and I’m working on a way to import my whole google contacts into it. It’s an amazing piece of software that solves a problem that I’ve fought with before, trying to figure out asterix dialplans, much less dig into proprietary systems from some crazy telco.

This sort of revolution is happening with ever increasing frequency in verticals around the world. It happened a long time ago with operating systems with linux, web servers with apache, databases with mysql. It’s happening now with the mobile world with app stores and android. It enables diversification and innovation inexpensively at the edges of the network, while centralizing and simplifying the connections between nodes on the network. It also pushes costs to where they belong: services. TCP/IP enabled all the wonders you see before you because it is so simple, so dumb. It will let anyone with a connection serve any bits they want to anyone else with a connection. The burst of innovation that the internet enabled is precisely because of this. Imagine if you could only use tcp/ip for, i don’t know, lookups in a telephone book. Only connect to a central server. Only use specific programs that you had to buy from some specific company. Would you have the wonders of the internet? No, you’d have the same system you started out with.

An unencumbered ability to create and innovate at the edges of a network generates ever increasing usage of the network. Which is why costs should be associated with usage, not creation or innovation of a product or edge node of the network.

Man the future is sweet.

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