Unified communications system developer CommuniGate announced on Tuesday that it has released an open-source adaptor kit enabling virtual private server hosting providers to easily integrate CommuniGate’s high-end unified communications tools with the cPanel hosting control panel.
While the CommuniGate software itself has existed for years, and CommuniGate has offered a cPanel plugin since late last year, the new tool is focused on letting service providers deliver CommuniGate’s tools from virtual server environments.
CommuniGate says the purpose of the tool is to help VPS hosting providers to “effectively compete in the cloud services market,” giving them a means to provide customers with “enterprise-grade” unified communications services – including VoIP, messaging, email, calendaring and shared storage – at a price point more in line with small-business budgets, hosted on and delivered from their existing virtual private server solutions.
Delivering unified communications services to small and medium-sized businesses with smaller budgets can be a challenge for service providers, as full-featured solutions are often expensive, and frequently require additional external hardware.
According to CommuniGate, its unified communications tool is designed to be delivered by service providers to their own customers. Using the cPanel adaptor, says the company, enables VPS hosting providers to run up to 50,000 unified communications accounts on one server, with no need for additional external hardware.
In an interview with the WHIR, Julian Borislavov, CEO of Bulgarian hosting provider ICN.bg, says the CommuniGate solution solved that price-barrier problem in his own company’s efforts to deliver unified communications to small business customers.
“The cost and complexity of external hardware made it difficult to hit price points, especially of individual customers,” says Borislavov. “It had also been difficult to find a solution scalable and flexible enough to fit our diverse customer base (consumer, SME, corporate). Also, the business model CommuniGate offers enables us to experiment in this business area with minimum risk.”
According to Borislavov, the new tool enables ICN.bg, which previously offered customers the default cPanel email plugin, to offer customers a full range of communications tools, and a clear upgrade path (and up-sell opportunity) from simple email tools to more complex communications functions.
Deployed by a significant number of hosting providers, and touching many millions of end users, the cPanel hosting control panel is an extremely important delivery platform for software businesses looking to distribute their products via hosting providers. Crafting a plugin, adaptor or integration with cPanel is a key move for many of those developers.
In the last year, cPanel itself has become more focused on driving those kinds of integrations itself. In the last week, we published video interviews involving cPanel and two particularly important integration partners, including a video interview describing the integration between the cPanel control panel and the SEO tools builder Attracta, and a video interview describing the investment and partnership between cPanel and billing software WHMCS.
According to CommuniGate, the company’s unified communications tools include: secure instant messaging with the ability provide closed, private chat as well as to link to external servers, including those running Microsoft Lync or Google Talk; email, calendar and address book tools that work with iOS, Android and Windows Mobile devices; shared cloud storage with simple sharing and collaboration features; and powerful tools for managing organizational rules and policies.
CommuniGate’s tools include client software for mobile, web and desktop.
By making the new adaptor kit open-source, CommuniGate says it is enabling VPS hosting providers to do custom integration work, even set themselves apart with some unique services built around the product.
“Open source means we have complete flexibility to take the product in whatever direction we think is best for our market and customers, and even offer some tailored solutions to customers with specific needs,” says Borislavov of ICN.bg “We also have the option to rely on the support of CommuniGate to build the roadmap of features.”
Talk back: Are you already a user of either CommuniGate or cPanel? Do you provide VPS hosting to small and medium-sized businesses? Have you struggled to find communications tools you can offer to customers at a price point they can afford? Are you interested in a product like this integrated with your hosting control panel? Let us know in the comments.