From the Story series.
The brief history of Blio.
Abz and Joe, had this idea to develop a security hardened operating system somewhere in 1999. We also had an interest in embedded systems and gadgets in general.
Early in 2001 we founded a company called the Blio Corporation (Pty) Ltd. We ran this in parallel with Frogfoot, with the idea to use Blio as a platform to launch products based on the IP developed inside Frogfoot.
Joe came up with the name and logo, which was inspired by the moonjellies in the Two Oceans Aquarium (Cape Town),
Abz’s had a strong background in writing device drivers and working on electronics projects. Joe was interested in management systems for network appliances.
Blio developed an Outdoor Fixed Wireless CPE (customer premises equipment) operating system. Basically a custom Linux system to run on small routers. Abz build the backend. Joe built the font-end. The biggest advantage of this system was to make CPE units field-upgradeable.
This CPE OS later evolved into the software used on Amobia’s network today.
In partnership with Mark (from CLUG) we developed and sold a cost effective 2U rackmount server casing. Frogfoot and Amobia has many of these casings in production environments.
We also developed a Bandwidth Manager (QoS device), but never fully completed the project.
In the process of building the CPE and the QoS devices we started building a unified web based management system framework used across all our products. This user interface is also used for our PBX.
Around 2005, Blio changed it’s focus towards the emerging VoIP market and started building an IP PBX for the small and medium business market. The idea was to run Asterisk on a low power embedded device with no moving parts. At this point Blio took on more shareholders. We became 5 directors.
Nelius and Gerhard have a strong electronic engineering background and we knew them from Stellenbosch days. Thomas has a long history in building PBX systems and developing software for embedded systems. We knew Thomas through the Cape Linux User Group.
Hardware development happens en Stellenbosch. Software development, marketing and sales run from Cape Town.
Where are we now?
We completed the first IP PBX product and we are close to completing all the required tests for ICASA certification. We have some plans to build derivative models, with PRI interfaces and maybe an entry level model with less analog ports. We are actively seeking distribution channels and integration partners for the PBX.
The CPE OS is moving forward. Amobia, which in the past only provided “last mile” services, is now creating a wider distribution network using Wifi hotspots. Let’s call this a “last yard” service. The new hotspot integrated CPE will be deployed soon.
We closed the Blio business down in 2009. An interesting failure.