Update: We’ve gotten a lot of requests for information about how we stack up against Twilio, so we’ve built a dedicated Twilio alternative page.
In the absence of a rapid telephony application development framework, web developers have found it hard to build applications that interact with phone callers. Twilio stepped in to solve this problem for many, merging the open source Asterisk PBX with a proprietary cloud platform and thus exposing the telephony engine to developers through drop-dead-simple APIs. However, Twilio comes with a catch. Developers are locked in to their cloud and are left with no option for choosing their own carriers or their own hosting solutions. This is prohibitive for some users, who have since been scouting for an open source alternative. Therein lay the premise for Plivo, a 100% FOSS alternative to Twilio.
While the code base for Plivo is in no way related to Twilio’s, Plivo’s APIs are consistent with Twilio’s — a nod to Twilio’s simplicity. Plivo APIs make it possible to create applications like interactive voice response (IVR), voicemail, and auto attendants in minutes. Developers who are familiar with the Twilio environment can port their existing applications to Plivo with minimal code modification.
Essentially, Plivo is a communications framework to let developers rapidly build voice-based applications and make and receive calls using existing infrastructure. The Plivo framework is written using Python, gevent, and Flask. Plivo works out of the gate with the next-generation carrier-grade telephony platform FreeSWITCH, which comes bundled with rock-solid stability, extreme flexibility, and scalability. FreeSWITCH’s native support for Skype, SIP, H.323, and Google Voice means that applications developed using Plivo can ride on these capabilities too. (Interestingly, Twilio doesn’t offer the ability to use any of these directly.)
“We hope to democratize telephony app development by releasing Plivo as an open source framework,” say Plivo co-founders Michael and Venky. “Plivo is a fully-featured platform. You can configure your own carriers to originate and terminate calls. Whether you’re a seasoned telephony engineer or a web developer, we’d love to see you experiment with Plivo. The only limit is your imagination.”