April 2011

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As part of the recently announced changes to the sipsorcery service I’ve decided to get the web site re-designed (actually that should just be designed since my initial effort doesn’t deserve to be called a design). I’ve commissioned a contest and got feedback from family and colleagues as I don’t trust my own judgement much when it comes to design type things. However so far the feedback has been confusing. A couple of colleagues swear one design is a real stand out but my wife thinks it’s rubbish and that a different one is the bee’s knees.

Instead of that approach I though I may as well ask people who are likely to visit the site on occasion rather than those making a choice based on aesthetics alone. So if anyone has got a spare minute I’d appreciate any feedback at http://99designs.com/web-design/vote-qf6uz1.

It’s been almost a year since I moved the SIP Sorcery service off Amazon’s EC2 and onto a dedicated server. During the intervening period the dedicated server was filling up at a rate of knots so I was forced to limit new accounts by auctioning invite codes on eBay. I’ve received the bill for the renewal of the dedicated server which coincides with the thinking I have been doing regarding the future direction of the service. There’s also been a number of different views expressed on the forums and it’s great that people actually find the service useful enough to care about what happens to it.

The decision I’ve come to is to move the SIP Sorcery service to a freemium model. That means there will be a level of service offered for free and a charge for a service which has more advanced features or greater resources. The details of exactly what will be in the free service will be announced when everything is ready but it’s likely to be along the lines of unlimited SIP accounts, a single SIP provider and a single dial plan. The paid for service will be unlimited everything and likely to be priced around $35/year. Those numbers aren’t cast in stone at this stage but I expect them to be close.

The main motivation to switch to a freemium model is that without it sipsorcery is likely to stagnate and then probably slowly die. The combination of donations and auctions would probably bring in enough to keep one or even two dedicated servers running but as more servers get added the administration overhead goes up and I find myself spending most of my time keeping things running rather than coming up with anything new. For example it’s taken me nearly 6 months to come up with a user interface for Mike Telis’ popular dial plan. The hope is that if demand for the service is great enough I’ll be able to devote one or two full days a week to development and keep the new features coming.

As for anyone who has previously donated or purchased an invite code that will be taken into account. On top of that thanks go to everyone who has used the service over the last nearly 4 years. For the first three years the mysipswitch and then sipsorcery services were very experimental and people had to invest a lot of time, effort and sometimes frustration to use them. Their efforts and feedback enabled the service to get better and I’m very grateful to them. In the past I did state that the basic service would always be free and my hope was that additional applications such as things like the switchboard would generate revenue to cover the service’s running costs. Unfortunately it’s become a bit of chicken and egg situation: I spend most of my free time maintaining the existing service and less and less on new applications. I’d rather it had worked out that the basic service could have stayed free but at the very least most people who have been using the service have had it free for up to 4 years.

I’ll make further announcements closer to the time and nobody will have their existing service affected without lots of notification. The freemium model will not be coming into effect for at least a month and most likely two or more.