Skype kills integration with open source PBX Asterisk

Move is more likely a change in strategy than Microsoft putting pressure on Skype to end third-party integration

Skype has decided not to renew an agreement that allows open-source telephony system Asterisk to be integrated with the service using software developed with Digium.

The decision is more about a change in strategy, rather than the company closing the door on third-party integration after the Microsoft acquisition of Skype, according a Gartner analyst.

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Skype for Asterisk is based on proprietary software that allows the open-source telephony system to join Skype as a native client, according to Digium, which has put out a product notice detailing the change. Digium drives the development of Asterisk and sells commercial products based on it.

Skype's decision not to renew the agreement with Digium is a sign it going forward will "open up" to the external community more through Skype Connect, rather than continuing to support specific proprietary solutions for individual vendors, Steve Blood, research vice president and agenda manager at Gartner, said via email.

Connect allows Skype to be integrated with PBXs based on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), including products from Avaya, Cisco Systems, and 3CX. There are also gateways -- from, for example, AudioCodes and Grandstream -- that allow Skype to be integrated with PBXs that are not SIP-enabled.

Skype is making a commercial decision to focus on bigger market opportunities, according to Blood. While Digium is one of the very few unified communication technology providers that is actually increasing its market share, there's probably not enough business value in the relationship with the company for Skype, he said.

At the same time, he is sure that is has nothing to do with the pending Microsoft acquisition.

Asterisk expert Olle E. Johansson, CEO at Swedish consultancy Edvina, agrees: "It may be tempting to come up with elaborate conspiracy theories, but I think the announcement comes too close to the deal with Microsoft for it to have had an effect," he said.

Arno Jolink, CEO at Dutch communications technology vendor IsraPunt, thinks the deal with Microsoft affected Skype's decision. However, it won't affect IsraPunt's business, Jolink said via e-mail. The company has already added other ways to connect to Skype on its VoIP telephony system IP Businessmanager, using products from Audiocodes, Freeswitch and some other software, according to Jolink.

Skype for Asterisk sales and activations will cease on July 26, according to Digium. Skype has made assurances that it will continue to support and maintain the software for a period of two years thereafter, Digium said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com.

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