Interview: Popular Telephony's CEO On Peerio, P2P, Open Source
This morning I had an opportunity to speak with Dmitry Goroshevsky, CEO of P2P VoIP vendor Popular Telephony, producer of the intriguing new Peerio444 application. Peerio has been promoted as a true "serverless" P2P VoIP telephony application and as an open source product, two important distinctions from market leader Skype. I asked Dmitry about how the product works, what his business model is, and about his open source strategy which controversially has both an open source and a proprietary component.
Let's start with an overview of your product
Dmitry I started Popular Telephony in 2001. We have built what we call "serverless telephony" -- I don't like to say P2P.
Why is that?
Dmitry Because peer-to-peer can still mean there is a server -- look at Skype, for example. It still requires that clients log on to a server in order to connect to other clients. Peerio444 is our "forever free" consumer application -- and it requires no servers.
And you have an enterprise product as well?
Dmitry We will be making announcements at Supercomm 2004 of both device manufacturers and systems integrators that are partnering with us to provide the Peerio application in embedded devices. My vision is that you will be able to go to Home Depot or WalMart and buy an IP Device that has "Peerio inside."
So the difference between the enterprise product and the consumer?
Dmitry The difference is in the embedded version. Otherwise the two products are the same. Our business model is to license technology for embedded devices. In the enterprise companies can cut substantially the cost of IP telephony by eliminating the server.
Let's talk about how you eliminate the server -- how do I create a connection with another user?
Dmitry We can't talk about exactly how it works as we have patents pending, but it is a true P2P approach where you register with the network and you can discover other users through the network. This is the really original part of our product.
Not being able to explain it, makes it hard to write about...
Dmitry (Laughs) I know, but look around on the Internet, there are a few ways of doing this that work. We have our own. The "core" is a P2P serverless engine with an open API to an addressing service. (UPDATE - Dmitry writes back to expand on this point -- "Peerio Core is definitely much more then just an address resolution. To give just a few examples - it can give you a "presence" service, or a file "save" and "retrieve" function and dozens of others. It would be all too simple if it was just an address resolution...")
So I could write my own application, say an instant messenger, and use your addressing service to avoid having a centralized server for registration?
Dmitry Exactly. There are many applications that need serverless addressing services.
So lets talk about Open Source, why make one part of the application open and one part proprietary?
Dmitry The "core" is really breakthrough, with patent protection pending. This is how we get rid of the server and we don't want to show our competitors how we do this. The rest of the application is effectively a standard SIP client, in fact we built on top of OSIP
So if I wanted to connect to a non-Peerio SIP device or gateway, I could?
Dmitry Yes, the SIP stack is completely standard. You'd need to know the IP address, of course, if it was not a Peerio device. But it is completely open to connect with other networks.
What is the license under which you are releasing the SIP client?
Dmitry I will get you an exact answer from our lawyers and the license itself will be posted in the next few days. It is a modification of a GPL license though -- you have some restrictions but can use the source for whatever you'd like, as long as your modifications are put back into the public domain.
Could I take your SIP Client and use it with some other addressing system, instead of your "core"?
Dmitry Yes, I don't know why you'd want to! But yes, you are free to do so.
Any other restrictions?
Dmitry There are restrictions with OSIP, but otherwise no, it is a pretty standard GPL agreement.
Thanks for talking with us today, we'll look forward to your announcements at Supercomm