Nortel Strong Arms Open Source Vendor

It’s hard to believe that stories like this are still so commonplace in our industry:

What happens when a VoIP blog (yours truly) writes about the fact that a former Nortel subsidiary (Blade Network Technologies) went looking for a new phone system, chose an open-source Asterisk-based solution from Fonality instead of using Nortel’s own PBX and then agreed to go on record on the VoIP & Gadgets blog about why they made such a shocking decision?

A) Nothing – it’s a VoIP blog – who cares? Nortel is an $11 billion dollar company that certainly doesn’t read blogs for their news.
B) Nortel reads the blog post, is a little peeved, but other than some emails sent internally, no one outside Nortel would ever know they were annoyed.
C) A Nortel Board Member flips out over the article, contacts Blade and then pressures Blade to return the Fonality system and have Fonality print a retraction to the blog article (and the subsequent press release).

If you answered C) congratulations, we have a winner!david vs. goliath nortel vs fonality Yes, it’s true – and in true David (Fonality) vs. Goliath (Nortel) fashion it would appear that we have Nortel peeved that one of their former subsidiaries chose an open-source IP-PBX (PBXtra from Fonality) and who had the audacity to speak to the press about why they made such a decision. Why, the nerve!

Now, I can see why Nortel wouldn’t be happy about the turn of events involved, or the fact that their market share is rapidly slipping (and has been for some time). Actions like this (read the article for in-depth detail) aren’t the way to fix the problem, though. Having a product that is at least good enough that your subsidiaries choose it is a start. It’s behavior like this that make the transparency and business models involved in Open Source so compelling for customers.


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