THE TELEPHONY FIRM recently snapped up by Microsoft for a song at $8.5bn, Skype has decided not to renew an agreement with the open source SIP software developer Digium, which will result in Asterisk users being unable to set up Skype services.
Digium, developer of the popular open source Asterisk SIP PBX software, signed an agreement with Skype in 2009 that allowed the development of a proprietary Skype client to allow Asterisk users to connect to the Skype network. Digium announced that Skype chose not to renew the agreement, meaning that Skype for Asterisk sales and activations will cease on 26 July.
Skype's decision not to renew the agreement leaves Skype for Asterisk users looking for a replacement, although Digium has said that its users should be able to access Skype's network until 2013, saying, "Representatives of Skype have assured us that they will continue to support and maintain the Skype for Asterisk software for a period of two years thereafter." However for businesses the hunt for an alternative is likely to begin sooner than that. Google might step up, ya think?
Some pundits have suggested that Skype's decision not to renew its contract with Digium is a sign of things to come under Microsoft's reign, however Skype started throwing its partners overboard some time ago. However, given that Skype stores contact list data on its own servers, from Microsoft's point of view the more data it has access to, the greater the opportunity it will have to make money out of Skype, so this decision seems somewhat baffling from a strategic point of view.
Whatever the reason, new Asterisk users will no longer be able to connect to the Skype network. Skype and its new owner Microsoft clearly must hope that many of those open source SIP users will shift over to Microsoft's proprietary PBX software, once it manages to develop some, that is.
Skype was asked to comment on why it took the decision not to renew its agreement with Digium and whether Microsoft's recent acquisition had any bearing on the decision.
This morning Skype got back to The INQUIRER with a statement regarding its decision not to renew an agreement with Digium, developers of the Asterisk PBX.
"Skype made the decision to retire Skype for Asterisk several months ago, as we have prioritized our focus around implementing the IETF SIP standard in our Skype Connect solution. SIP enjoys the broadest support of any of the available signalling alternatives by business communications equipment vendors, including Digium. By supporting SIP in favour of alternatives, we maximize our resources and continue to reinforce our commitment to delivering Skype on key platforms where we can meet the broadest customer demand."
Although Skype might be implementing the IETF SIP standard, limiting access to its network overlay means that other voice-over-IP providers cannot access Skype's large membership. So while it might use an industry standard to initiate connections between nodes on its overlay, by keeping it closed off to potential rivals the firm appears to be trying to keep its valuable user data for itself. µ
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