Q&A with OrecX�s Bruce Kaskey
December 07, 2009
Open source software has been gaining traction as a means to provide cost-effective, flexible, scalable, adaptable and obsolescence-resistant solutions based on code accessible to developers. Lately open source has been enjoined by open platforms and service-oriented architecture aimed at achieving similar results in particular for demanding contact center applications.
OrecX makes call recording solutions based on open source software. To make sense of the case for and issues with open source, TMCnet.com interviewed company Co-Founder Bruce Kaskey.
The full exchange is printed below.
TMCnet: 'Open' is becoming a buzzword. Please outline the differences between open source, open platforms, and SOA?
BK: Open source is based on flexibility, integration and development communities that come together to solve issues. These issues come in all sizes and forms, from expensive proprietary software to applications that cannot communicate between each other. The Linux community was born out of the frustration that developers had with proprietary source code on operating systems. That’s why the differences between open source, open platform and SOA are all in the eye of the beholder. From OrecXs’ perspective – anything that is open is good – platforms, source code or SOA.
TMCnet: What are the benefits and challenges of open source-written contact center solutions?
BK: The primary benefit of open source is flexibility and cost of ownership. Take for example our GPL, or general public license, or free product Oreka that is posted on source forge. Anyone in the world can download the GPL version and be able to record phone calls within 30 minutes. Our open source version does not have all the bells and whistles of our commercial version but it can record calls.
Now we have taken all the development work from our community and packaged that within our commercial version Oreka TR. Through all the work of our community we have developed a call center grade voice recording, quality monitoring and screen capture solutions for a fraction of the price of our competition. Since our products core code is open source its agnostic to the operating system, thus we can load it on any server anywhere in the world in 45 to 60 minutes. In contrast, proprietary solutions take one to two days to go live.
The major challenge for any open source code company is credibility. Proprietary software and hardware companies have developed their brand and customer base over the past two decades, so open source companies are always battling the “who are you” challenge. We respond by allowing customers to try the software for FREE, for 30 days without any type of commitment. This gives our customers confidence and proof that we are who we say we are.
TMCnet: What impact has the economy had on open source adoption?
BK: It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how the recession has effected adoption of open source. From one side, customers are looking for inexpensive ways to solve business issues, and on the other side customers are sitting tight and not making changes to existing infrastructure or processes. But long term open source will be the answer for many end users, mainly from the standpoint of cost, flexibility and ease of use. Think back when you bought your first stereo, every item had to be from the same manufacturer. Now every thing is open, components can all communicate with each other, thus giving customer’s choice.
TMCnet: We understand that they are few open source products compared to proprietary-code-written solutions on the market. Why is that? Critics have said that open source has not proven a net ROI over best of breed, citing also the IT complexities.
BK: This is a great question, with many answers. If you take the core open source products GPL and try to develop your own application with a team of your own developers, the ROI is not going to be as good as if a community of developers with many different interests contribute to the code. Take, for example, Asterisk. That community is powerful and contributes to the code and the expansion of Asterisk applications for all users. The software is free, thus the ROI for using the software is very high.
Now the other example of ROI for open source is different then the Asterisk model. In this model you have a GPL version and build the commercial version based on contributions from customers and the developer community:
Our customers have had success with our open source products including for critical, visible and demanding projects. For example in 2008 Cross Check Communications needed a solution to implement a line-checking and voice-recording system: in two weeks. It had been commissioned to set up and maintain a system for checking and recording trading lines on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, following its merger with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, forming the CME Group.
After looking at larger vendors—including Nice Systems and Verint Systems—Cross Check decided on OrecX’s Oreka TR Total Recording system. The implementation—with so many moving parts and a tight timeframe—could have been a disaster, but Cross Check says it was the complete opposite. By working directly with our technical support server to set up recording channels for each of the commodity clearing firm’s 500 trading phone lines the firm was ready to work in 11 business days.
The results were just as rapid: since the CME Group started utilizing Cross Check’s services, traders can access any call from any computer using a standard browser such as Internet Explorer. Also, traders no longer need to burn CDs; recordings, Cross Check says, can be e-mailed from any computer in two to three clicks. The search criteria native to OrecX’s application allows clients to pull calls quickly from the database and save as many calls as necessary.
In the process, Cross Check estimated that it has saved $292,000 this year by turning to OrecX, since its open-source nature allows it to run on a standard server and capture recordings from any audio source. The firm plans to keep using the vendor for the foreseeable future even as the scope of the project expands.
TMC: What is new and coming down the pike in the way of your open source solutions?
BK: 48,000 people have downloaded our GPL version and we have over 20,000 end users. Our main objective is to give customers an easy non-proprietary way to record phone lines, monitor their customer service representatives and capture screen activity for their agents. OrecX is constantly trying to make this experience simple and easy for the end users.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Amy Tierney