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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

About SIP-Router Project

I want to reveal some details from the process of getting to sip-router.org project. Next statements are from my personal point of view.

When all started, back in 2001/2002, it was research and SIP Express Router (SER). Over the time became more than that, the market demanded new features pushed beyond a SIP proxy/router definition, the place of this application was no longer in research, business side and telephony industry forced to take actions.

In that context I co-founded OpenSER in 2005, leaving SER to continue its way.

Now after several years, the situation evolved as well, SIP is clear the today’s technology for telecommunication, every Telco out there is deploying/replacing its infrastructure with SIP. However, SIP was designed for more than this, other companies develop innovative services and products using this protocol. I could identify couple of directions within our project:
- old-style-fashion switch – mapped on SIP Router/Proxy, where speed and reliability is the main concern
- call/dialog stateful proxy (back-to-back user agent) – for a larger set of security and service features
- pbx-like features using SIP signaling only – call pickup, shared line appearance, etc…
- new fashion functionalities – IM&Presence, gaming, integrated and convergent communication, application servers…

To be able to sustain and keep high level quality, it is clear that we need more companies in, entities that are interested on different directions of the development, so they contribute there. I am interested in the first and last direction with higher priority, but I don’t want to leave out the other two.

Moveover, kamailio/openser is used now in many deployments, some serving millions of users and billions of minutes per month. We need to provide a reliable environment so more companies are confident the development and maintenance continue. The project shall prove the maturity that is not dependent on gringo-like actions, one company influence, forking out of nowhere, domain hijacking, etc… this is the first goal for myself, something I want to ensure before anything else.

sip-router.org was not one minute/meeting decision (after a beer, dinner or one email, …). Discussions started between different persons, coordinated or privately, several months ago, long before the latest fork. It was clear that SER and OpenSER made their points over the time, one satisfying better the need for stability, performance, the other better for innovation and flexibility. At a point in future, sooner or later, each project would have been switched some of its resources to the other direction.

At the time of announcement, the sip-router.org site had comprehensive content about how this will work. It was the result of face-to-face meetings, phone and email conversations that took place a lot in the last months before the news. It was no decision until everyone deeply involved in each project acknowledged that there are mutual benefits for everybody (developers, users and businesses behind both projects) backed up by willingness to do it in a fair manner.

I cannot talk about other projects in the x-SER eco-system, but with Kamailio/OpenSER never was the case/proposal of merging back to SER, all the time was about collaboration and joint effort. It will never happen to drop our goals for innovation and flexibility. Therefore we discussed and agreed the development mechanisms to ensure the need of each project: a stable layer (core + tm) and innovation by modules or libraries.

Nothing was left out, every aspect, from licensing, contribution, … to releasing and management, was approached. The meeting in Karsruhe came just to conclude that. All our community members were happy about announcement, and, as a matter of fact, there were no political-like discussions conducted between our members since sip-router.org announcement, the focus moved on the technical side and good progress was reached so far:
http://lists.kamailio.org/pipermail/users/2008-November/020694.html

Personally, I consulted people in open source and communication world, that are not particularly technical or in relation with x-SER projects. Getting to sip-router.org took more than half year since I realized a common layer between the x-SER projects should be beneficial for everybody.

There are more things to say, but maybe not that relevant. I let them for the time we meet at SIP Router events. Now I hope several points are more clear:
- it is not a merge back in SER, it is a joint project (this just because some tried to suggest it)
- the entire collaboration process was carefully discussed and planned
- it was conducted by the need of reliable, non-confusing environment — that ensures sustainable development, innovation and rock-solid stability, it protects the interests of developers, users and businesses investing resources in the project.

At the end, I want to thank to Kamailio and SER management team members, to the developers and many other people involved in both projects that helped with this process – they dedicated lot of time and resources.

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