ITExpo extract


Chris Lyman called me "clairvoyant" when I said preloading voice software into laptops just seemed logical. Lyman is the founder of Fonality, a Los Angeles company providing open-source VoIP systems for enterprise users. Lyman, a hyperactive 20-something with $11.5 million in funding, started Fonality four years ago after selling a web hosting business he developed while still in high school.

Lyman demonstrated Fonality's softphone interface for me at ITExpo at the L.A. Convention Center. The interface resembles a cell phone, only with an auxiliary window where contacts can be voice dialed, IM'd or e-mailed with a click of a mouse. When a light goes on for a long-toothed trade hack from the TV world, it stands to reason that anyone can master a softphone. It seems far more useful than about 95 percent of the software that's prestuffed into a laptop. You must be negotiating with computer makers, I said to Lyman. That's when he accused me of reading minds.

Be on the lookout for Fonality-equipped laptops. Lyman's investors include Intel.

How about VoIP-on-demand? Greg Welch, CEO of GlobalTouch Telecom, also of Los Angeles, told me his company set up 200,000 .wav-equipped voicemail boxes for Sony Pictures for an audio promo of one of their movies. GlobalTouch is on track to clear $30 million in sales this year, up from $13 million last year. The company is sort of an OEM for resellers that want to offer voice without becoming a telephone company. GlobalTouch has around 50,000 endpoints in addition to its footprint in the movie biz.

Ken Kuenzel advises VoIP providers to secure based on applications. Kuenzel is founder and chief technology officer of Covergence in Maynard, Mass. It's not enough just to firewall a network, Kuenzel said during a panel presentation on security. Considerations have to be made at the application level, and for the upgrade path.

Kuenzel was joined by Kevin Mitchell, director of solutions marketing for Acme Packet in Burlington, Mass. Both agreed some of the biggest security threats to communications systems come from within the systems. "Service attacks are probably where providers are focused, but a registration flood took down Skype," Mitchell said. "Even 'American Idol' televoting time looks like a service attack."
Kuenzel said some of the biggest D-DOS attacks he's seen were the result of a broken server or a router update.

"There's a hacker or a spam or a spit once in a while," he said, "but mostly, it's about protecting the network from itself."

Signing off from L.A. Share you insight with me at