The VoIP Crossroads: Pros and Cons of Open Source vs. Proprietary

Voice over Internet Protocol, better known as VoIP, is quickly becoming the standard for voice (and multi-media) communication across businesses large and small. There are many benefits associated with VoIP, including cost savings, real-time conferencing capabilities, the ability to share media – including live stream video as part of a singular transmission – and enhanced teleworking functionality. But assuming you’ve made the decision to transition from traditional telephony to VoIP, how do you know whether proprietary VoIP software or open-source VoIP software is right for your organization?

Here we outline the advantages and disadvantages of both VoIP software systems.



  • Probably the single biggest benefit of a proprietary system is a uniform user experience. The “look and feel” of the VoIP system remains consistent across compatible hardware and software applications, so users know what to expect even when implementing new devices and programs.
  • Because you are required to purchase hardware through your proprietary vendor and all software has (theoretically) been optimized to work with the specific VoIP system, technical support is streamlined. This can be both a positive and a negative. When things are working well, or issues can be quickly resolved, having a single point of contact is great. But if more complicated issues arise, a proprietary system doesn’t allow for developer workarounds specific to your problem and you’re at the mercy of a large corporation.
  • The biggest disadvantage associated with proprietary VoIP systems is cost – after all, someone has to pay for the marketing, sophisticated user interface design and customer service. With that said, if customization isn’t crucial to your business applications, you may save a lot of time and headaches by going with an “off the shelf” product.


Open Source

Customization and cost are definitely the two primary reasons most businesses choose open-source VoIP solutions.

  • With open source software, you have root-level access to the entire system, meaning you can make modifications, changes and custom integrations with no additional system charges. With that said, making an open-source system work efficiently and effectively for your business means you’ll need someone (or a team) with a substantial amount of technical expertise to get your devices and integrated software components up-and-running. This can require a significant upfront investment, but long-term savings can be significant.
  • Open source, by nature, means the software is free to use and allows for unrestricted modifications. Therefore, there are no licensing fees and no long-term contracts and those savings can add up quickly.

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to which VoIP model is best. The IT professionals at ATB, however, can help you review your specific business needs and make suggestions regarding open source vs. proprietary VoIP. Let us know how we can help!

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