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Asterisk Breeds A Cottage Industry

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the press-4-to-hear-monkeys-screaming dept.

Communications 155

gardel writes "The open-source PBX is popular, powerful and affordable. But setting up and maintaining Asterisk in its distributed form is a technical challenge for even the most accomplished of geeks. Now, Voxilla reports, several new companies (more than 60, at last count), smelling a good business opportunity, offer simplified graphical front-ends for Asterisk. And more are on the way."

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155 comments

GNAA Defeats Wikipedia (0, Offtopic)

AngryParsley (809581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265064)

GNAA declares victory over Wikipedia
GNAA declares victory over Wikipedia
Zeikfried - Associated Press, Nigeria

In a week which shall be recorded in Wikipedia infamy (and then vandalized and redirected to clitoris), the oft persecuted and never defeated internet missionaries of the Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.us] struck yet another powerful and telling blow against the powerful forces of bigotry and racism. Most notably, the growing zionist community on renowned internet pissing yard wikipedia.org [wikipedia.org] .

And the records have indeed tumbled, with an unheard of third successful survival from the digital shitheap that is "Votes For Deletion" [wikipedia.org] . Coming in spite a heinous act of self promotion and cyber terrorism by Pat Gunn/Improv [dachte.org] (formerly known as Aharon Meshenstein prior to his infiltration of the United States), who listed and inspired mob vandalism upon the GNAA's entry [wikipedia.org] .

Fresh from his promotion of Wikipedia's $50,000 fundraiser for arms and supplies to the Jewish state of Israel, Improv launched a series of unprovoked and slanderous attacks against the well loved organisations leadership, all the while using foul and unholy necromancies to enlist the dead themselves to vote the entries deletion. Names such as "Wolfman" and "Demonslave" only adding to the damning list of evidence linking Mr Gunn to the occult.

Though Improv's actions gained him a small majority, a shock last minute intervention from Pope John Paul II spared the pages untimely fate, although as yet unconfirmed reports have indicated that several hundred 8-year old negro children were driven to the Basilica to secure the pontiffs support. Others point towards the black curse cast upon the deletion campaign by the support of infamous Brawl Hall mouthpiece "Yoyo [brawl-hall.com] " as the main driving force behind the salvation of the aforementioned entry.

But the details are likely to cause few sleepless nights among the group, only one of whom was willing to speak to the press. Namely GNAA Wikipedia contributor Popeye, who interrupted his drawing of pornography to give a brief dismissal the controversy: "Even with Improv's shady dealings, the sheer size and girth of a swollen GNAA phallus enables it both an identity and a vote of it's own. Making such discussion moot".

About Wikipedia:

Wikipedia, a content-free encyclopedia in many languages, started life in January 2001 and has already risen to the status of the internets premiere "trollpedia".

Currently Wikipedia contains 363950 articles, 10032 of which are genuine, and 343 of them factually accurate. Leaving Wikipedia on an academic par with "Star Wars: Incredible Cross-sections: The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Vehicles and Spacecraft" [amazon.com] and "My First Book of Animals from A to Z" [amazon.com] .


About GNAA:

GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [klerck.org] ?
Are you a NIGGER [mugshots.org] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [gay-sex-access.com] ?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!
  • First, you have to obtain a copy of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [imdb.com] and watch it. You can download the movie [idge.net] (~130mb) using BitTorrent.
  • Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA First Post [wikipedia.org] on slashdot.org [slashdot.org] , a popular "news for trolls" website.
  • Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on irc.gnaa.us, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today! Upon submitting your application, you will be required to submit links to your successful First Post, and you will be tested on your knowledge of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE.

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is NiggerNET, and you can connect to irc.gnaa.us as our official server. Follow this link [irc] if you are using an irc client such as mIRC.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

.________________________________________________.
| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact:
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | gary_niger@gnaa.us [mailto]
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA Corporate Headquarters
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | 143 Rolloffle Avenue
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | Tarzana, California 91356
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries:
| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Enid Indian
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_indian@gnaa.us [mailto]
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters
` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Copyright (c) 2003-2004 Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.us]

Sincerely, AngryParsley

I hope a Nig annihilates your anus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265135)

Are you GAY [klerck.org] ?

Dead link, fuckwad

Re:I hope a Nig annihilates your anus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265386)

Actually deader than you think.

Dear AngryParsley... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265222)

Dear AngryParsley,

You seem to have a lot of drive and enthusiasm, which is obviously not finding a productive outlet, have you thought about getting some part-time work in IT? Perhaps try doing some volunteer work!

Maybe you've not yet graduated and are going through that 'difficult' stage. Girls don't seem to like you, the sporty kids bully you. We've all been there, it'll pass. The simple fact that is girls mature faster than boys.

In a few years, you'll look back on these days and laugh! :)

Anyway, take care.

AC.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265068)

First post?

yes well. no one is perfect. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265071)

ditto

cool (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265075)

So does the PBX connect to a normal net line (T1) or can this do VOIP too? Also, what would the GUI do for monitoring, or is it just for configuration? Can you tap lines with it or reroute calls? Sounds like this could be fun.

Re:cool (5, Informative)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265093)

It is primarily used for voip, actually, though handles leased lines (T1, E1, etc) perfectly well with supported hardware. Everything form $20 pots cards so you can use it as an answering machine at home to multiple T1 cards are supported... and lots of voip.

You can do everything with it, but configuration is a lot of text files in true unix fashion.. it's more of a framework than a completed solution... which is what the article is about.. asterisk is really powerful, but setting up a complicated setup is sort of, well, complicated (though I find the complexity is about right for the level of flexibility)

Re:cool (4, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265144)

WRT tapping lines and rerouting calls -- having just installed an Asterisk-based phone system at work, I find myself not informing the business-types of its full capabilities just for the sake of not making them nervous. Very, very cool stuff -- though we now have some extra dependencies involved in making the phones work, we also have a fully customizable (and largely customized), featureful phone system. As it is, we're tied into a T1 for the outside world and doing VoIP (IAX when we can and SIP when we can't) to talk to the phones themselves. Features on the TODO list include integration with the CRM system (to make a note whenever a customer calls one of us or visa-versa, for instance) -- nothing about it's hard, just time-consuming.

Unfortunately, IP phones with quality full-duplex speakerphone support (unlike the otherwise excellent Sipura SPA-841s we're using) are *expensive*. (Know of a sub-$200 SIP phone with good speakerphone support? Let me know!)

Re:cool (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12267025)

You might try the Polycom IP-500 SIP phones. They are supposed to have great speakerphones, just barely under $200 at many places.

We're about to upgrade at my work. Its between the SPA-841's and the IP-500's. Both look pretty nice!

More info from the Asterisk wiki
http://www.voip-info.org/tiki-index.php?page=Polyc om%20SoundPoint%20IP%20500 [voip-info.org]

Re:cool (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267195)

The SPA-841s are great if you don't need good speakerphone support -- their remote administration support is especially great, if you can just get the docs (which Sipura for some reason only makes available to resellers, partners and such). Only unresolved issue I'm having with them is sometimes incoming calls on secondary lines time out and so go straight to voicemail instead of ringing -- still haven't figured out that one yet. My vendor advised IP-600's when I asked them about phones w/ better speakerphone capability... will be interested to look into it and see if there's any relevant differences between those and the earlier models.

Note (2, Interesting)

elid (672471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265076)

Note that not all of the solutions are open-source like PBX, although AMP is.

The popular open-source PBX is popular (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265086)

The popular open-source PBX is popular
Never.

THAT popular? (4, Funny)

oskard (715652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265089)

The popular open-source PBX is popular

No way really?

Re:THAT popular? (0, Redundant)

bryan8m (863211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265116)

A bit redundant.

your post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265211)

A bit gay... no wait, VERY GAY

Re:THAT popular? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265126)

CRC Error:

Cyclic Redundancy Check

Please proofread all submissions and try again.

Re:THAT popular? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265151)

Hey, dumbasses, +0, Redundant isn't for the submission.

Re:THAT popular? (1)

puppet10 (84610) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265277)

Just getting ahead of the dupe cycle - this way they can dupe within one posting.

Strange (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265119)

How is possible to breed by fucking the asterisk hole?

(_*_)

This is the way most open source works... (5, Insightful)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265137)

A setup/administration GUI is what Red Hat sells(sold?), what SuSE sells, what Mandrake(or whatever it's called now), Xandros, and Linspire sell... This is probably a sign that Asterisk is here to stay. Or since we knew that already, that Asterisk not finished growing anytime soon.

This is cool... (4, Interesting)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265159)

...but what I would really like is an in-depth intro (contradiction in terms, I know) to telephone technology. I can set up a web server, I know how to firewall in three different languages, and I can understand at least a third of any C you put in front of me -- but man, phone technology just makes my head hurt.

The company I work for is moving in a couple months, and we're taking the opportunity to upgrade our voicemail system. For a while I had hopes of maybe getting Asterisk to do it -- yay Free Software -- but then I started looking into it. As near as I can figure, after a day's Googling, our regular, analog, non-VOIP Meridian phones just won't talk to Asterisk-compatible hardware...but that's what I told the boss. (That, and I didn't have time to do it.)

The honest truth is, I suspected it couldn't be done, or at least couldn't be done cheaply, but I couldn't wrap my head around what I was reading. I began to understand how my father feels when I try to explain to him what I'm doing.

I have rarely felt so ignorant as when I tried to understand what hardware and what connections from the phone company would be needed:

  1. to connect Asterisk to the telephone company's wires (the CO, I think)
  2. to connect Asterisk to our own phones so calls could come in
  3. and to let us make phone calls out.
I tried finding some consultant or company who could do this for us, but no luck. So we're getting a bigger and better version of the Norstar system we've got now. And that's fine -- it's done, someone else is doing it, and someone else is going to support it. But some kind of phone-networking-for-dummies would've been great.

Re:This is cool... (3, Insightful)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265203)

Write it yourself... VOIP is still young. Linux was really hard to install before slackware and the like came out. It wasn't easy until RedHat came along.

In time VOIP will become easy, but for now you need to be willing to learn all the hard details. The best way to do this is setup a system at home. Until it is ready don't go live with it, but just start testing. Then write docs to help everyone else. A book would be nice. Once it is working and you understand it go live.

Though outsourcing telephone often does make sense.

Re:This is cool... (2, Informative)

jfb3 (25523) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265229)

If he could write it himself he wouldn't need it. What he needs is something from somebody who ~already~ understand this. So do I.

Re:This is cool... (3, Insightful)

femto (459605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265335)

He is (and you are) the best person to write it.

Someone who is learning as they go will be forced to write to the level of an inexperienced person, and will have a better idea than an experienced person of what newbies have difficulty with.

Getting involved is not just for experienced people! Just jump in and have a go.

The most important (and hardest) thing is to start writing. It doesn't have to be perfect, just force yourself to start and do the best you can at the time. Once you've finished the text, and understand things better, you can go back and correct any factual errors you may have made (or release it and let others correct it for you).

Re:This is cool... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265647)

Doubt you'll be able to understand, say, QSIG, in time to connect your Asterisk to your Meridian (a dreadful, proprietary P.o.S., IMHO; no offence).

It will be cheaper to buy some nice little SIP phones. You can get $1-$5 each for those nasty old Nortel 26xx's. Get rid of them now, before you have to pay somebody to haul them away.

If you RTFA, you'll see some reference to companies who are making a business of installing Asterisk for businesses. If you follow some of the references, you'll find even more.

It'll be waaaay cheaper than moving your Meridian (Merde-ian, I call 'em), even with paying an integrator and buying new telesets.

And, BTW, your boss will be expecting 99.9999% uptime from his phone system. This is not the time or place for you to try your hand at the Asterisk equivalent of "Hello World"

Re:This is cool... (2, Informative)

JM (18663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265237)

It's doable, and not that hard.

The only thing to remember is that the Meridian phones are proprietary crap. So you can't just plug them into asterisk, but rather you'll have to
plug your asterisk server between the phone lines that come from the phone company and your PBX.

Then, expand your system by either buying some Sipura 2000 boxes and regular telephones, or some IP phones.

Re:This is cool... (4, Interesting)

bahwi (43111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265310)

Yeah, one of the big problems with Asterisk is, even though it is a *nix program, it is not really a *nix program, but takes a *nix box and makes it into a very configurable PBX, not the other way around. It's great, but, uh, difficult.

1. To connect to the telephone co, you'd need a T1 or ISDN PRI(Voice T1, not Data).
2. Digium (digium.com) has hardware to connect it to regular phone lines, ditto for out.

To connect to regular phones you need FXO ports, and to connect to outgoing phones you need FXS ports. Digium has hardware, and a few others. DLink has a good VoIP router(with QoS and everything).

I'm slowly getting my stuff together to be a consultant for this stuff, but I've got a lot to learn myself. It's too big of a market, but coming together.

You want a new PBX? Use Asterisk. You just need Voicemail? Asterisk. Want an IVR? Asterisk. Need a call center? Asterisk. Want to do call queuing? Asterisk. Need a predictive dialer? Asterisk.

Holy crap, that just solved so many problems, but impossible to configure.

Re:This is cool... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266002)

To connect to regular phones you need FXO ports, and to connect to outgoing phones you need FXS ports.

No, to connect to regular phones ("stations") you use FXS ("foreign exchange station") ports. FXO ("foreign exchange office") ports are for connecting to the phone company CO ("central office").

Re:This is cool... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265352)

I currently use an asterisk system for my business from a company called switchvox. They just sent me a box I plug into my network and it works. It's simple for me and I'm willing to pay for that. Plus their support is really nice.

It also allows me to have extensions that route to my sales person's phones at THEIR home. Our clients don't know any different and people get to work from home. There are a lot of features I don't use, but it saves us about $400/month on long distance calls and adding additional lines can be done my IT staff rather than an Avaya tech.

The immature part of the asterisk technology is not asterisk itself, but the VOIP providers that work with asterisk. I have yet to find a reliable VOIP provider that can work with asterisk, I've tried LiveVOIP (horrible horrible service), Teliax, iax.cc, voicepulse, broadvoice, and SIPPhone. If someone can become a reliable VOIP provider that works ALL the time with asterisk, they can make a ton of money. We have to use analog lines for our incoming and outgoing lines because the VOIP providers are not caught up the reliability of asterisk.

Re:This is cool... (2, Interesting)

Rafke (22542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265398)

I advice you to subscribe to the asterisk users mailing list and read it for some time. It has a surprising mix of pros and newbies.

Asterisk-Users mailing list [digium.com]

Re:This is cool... (2, Interesting)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266878)

Whilst this is good advice, be prepared for a TON of email on that list... it's a VERY busy list

Your solution? Cisco. (0, Flamebait)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265536)

So we're getting a bigger and better version of the Norstar system we've got now.
My company ditched Norstar and went with Cisco VoIP phones and phone servers. There's your solution.

Cisco? You're kidding, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265970)

[...]Cisco [...] There's your solution.

Puh-leee-uh-ze. Cisco? They're the friggin' Nortel of VoIp! Proprietary, lock-in, unreliable junk.

Re:This is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265760)

Uhhh, Meridian phones are AMI digital. Nasty stuff. However, you can use Asterisk as an answering machine with Meridian, since the answering machine ports are analogue.

Re:This is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265852)

If you just have regular phone lines. You need FXO. FXO is what you would need for the incoming lines, these are like 15 bucks off of ebay. You would need one FXO port per line. They make cards that have multiple ones on them, but I 'm not sure of the price.

I would check http://www.voip-info.org/. They have examples on how to interface legacy systems with Asterisk. There are many different solutions with varying price ranges. I believe they even have a Meridian as an example but I might be wrong on that

Re:This is cool... (1)

Stinking Pig (45860) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266310)

Telephony For Computer Professionals, by Janet Laino... Amazon link here [amazon.com] .

Excellent resource for this very purpose, and the fact that it predates VoIP means that you can compartmentalize the one technology from the other (first understand what you mean to emulate, then understand the emulation).

Re:This is cool... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266696)

I tried finding some consultant or company who could do this for us, but no luck.

Did you try the Bristol Group [bg.com] ? (I don't work there or have ownership interest -- just a reasonably satisfied customer).

Re:This is cool... (1)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267292)

I'm in the same boat. I'm currently doing elearning for a call center. I'd love to be able to integrate Moodle with the system so we could push content based on call volume. There are some ASP scripts out there that may be able to do this, but I don't know enough about what kind of resources to ask for, and I don't want to screw up the business end of the business.

I think that Knowlagent offers the functionality but it's expensive as heck. Avaya\Lucent might have their own solutions... but noone seems to want to give me the info.

I'm a hands on learner. I need somthing to play with, darn it.

Re:This is cool... (4, Informative)

geggo98 (835161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267390)

It's easy to connet Asterisk to your Telco's line. Just use a standard ISDN-Card or a modem. To connect your internal devices is a little bit more tricky. You can find appropiate hardware on http://www.digium.com/ [digium.com] or http://www.junghanns.net/ [junghanns.net] .
Background: You can't connect two ISDN devices or two modems with some kind of cross cable witout some additional tricks. To drive analog phones, you need a modem card with FXS support, for ISDN telephones, the card must support the NT-mode. E.g. the Junghanns QuadBRI card support NT and can drive up to 4 ISDN lines. The Wildcard TDM400P supports FXS can drive four analog devices. Both run fine with Asterisk.

Acronyms:
FXS: Foreinge Exchange Subscriber
NT: Network Trminator

60 solutions for solving the same problem (3, Insightful)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265160)

This is some heavy reinventing of the wheel.

Most of these solutions are proprietary, and probably will die as 2-3 FOSS solutions gets generally accepted.

But these 60 companies will probably prosper anyway, with supplying consultancy and support for what I think is the most successful FOSS project ever in it's application domain.

Re:60 solutions for solving the same problem (3, Insightful)

bahwi (43111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265326)

Asterisk is too complex, I think it'd be more around 10-20 FOSS solutions that would be generally accepted, but the need for proprietary systems in this industry is huge(or good UI FOSS projects, which rarely if ever exist). The manager, who has no clue what the difference between a CPU and a monitor is, needs to be able to configure the phones. And it's gotta be from IE.

It's too complex a problem domain (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265568)

Dial plans look like regular expressions, and even the folks with the pretty GUIs don't change that, because you'd basically need to invent another visual programming language to GUIfy them, and those suck.

Programming moderately-advanced user-driven functionality like letting users dial an extension to [arbitrary example] change call forwarding numbers, or [other arbitrary example] rerecord voice prompts -- is actually programming. The steps for validating that the user is who they ought to be, or coming from where they're supposed to; prompting them; storing data in the right places; coping nicely with error conditions -- it's all real programming, inasmuch as doing it right necessarily involves writing code. Sure, you can have a prepackaged solution that lets users do the most common tasks trivially from a GUI -- but any business that wants even moderately interesting things done will need something nontrivial done, and at that point you need to have the ability for someone who knows how to code get in and get things done.

Just the basics of "configuring the phones" -- that can be done from a GUI already. Hell, the prepackaged Asterisk-based solution we bought (before customizing the hell out of it) has a web UI for adding phone extensions, and the phones are all web-administrable as well (through a very, very slick interface). That doesn't mean that the coders are out of the loop, though, for anything but the most trivial of changes. The suits want to change the behaviour of calls to the main line so that they act differently based on business hours or whether the secretary is logged in to the company Jabber server? Needs skilled labor. The suits want to automatically charge customers phone calls made to the support line based on caller ID, and allow the support folks to override it at will? Needs skilled labor.

The thing is, though, I'm not just saying "needs skilled labor" as in "this is how it is right now"; I'm saying it as in "every attempt for the last 30 years to enable suits to do this kind of thing [creating application logic] unassisted has failed", starting with COBOL.

So, in conclusion: To the extent that there is such a need to allow managers to configure the thing, and to the extent that that need can actually be fulfilled, it already exists.

It's too complex a problem domain-Teaching Pendant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265606)

"The thing is, though, I'm not just saying "needs skilled labor" as in "this is how it is right now"; I'm saying it as in "every attempt for the last 30 years to enable suits to do this kind of thing [creating application logic] unassisted has failed", starting with COBOL."

Programming by Example. [mit.edu]

Re:It's too complex a problem domain (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265747)

Meh. What utter nonsense. PBX technicians take a 2-week course to learn how to do that stuff.

This kind of FUD from the Telecom industry and their flunkies in Telecom departments has been going on since Alexander Graham Bell built the first Telecom monopoly. It's like IT was in the 70's - relatively simple stuff, obfuscated with all kinds of scary mumbo-jumbo.

All you need is the patience to understand the scary mumbo-jumbo. You'll find the whole Telecom industry is built on ideas and technology from the 60s.

Re:It's too complex a problem domain (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266137)

First: I'm not saying it's hard. I'm saying it's too hard for my manager, who hasn't taken a 2-week course. (I taught myself in less than two weeks -- but for my manager, who is extremely busy with his job of managing stuff, even two days is an unthinkably long amount of time to devote to learning a technical skill).

Second: I'm not speaking of PBX systems in general; I'm speaking of Asterisk in particular. Your 1960s ideas-and-technology PBX isn't going to have any sort of ability to decide to route a call based on who's logged in to Jabber or be configured to update a database given user selections or so forth.

Treating a post as an opportunity to go into a general-purpose, tangentially-related rant rather than respond to the actual points made is a breach of etiquette I've been guilty of in the past -- but that makes it no less a breach.

Who needs a GUI? (2, Interesting)

zmanea (656739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265187)

If a GUI is so important wouldnt Cisco have one for their routers/switches? Setting up extensions in Asterisk is no harder than setting up an access list on a router. If you need a GUI then maybe you should not be doing it.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (1)

brainchill (611679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265252)

It's not so hard ... I prefer the command line BUT
to answer your question cisco has/does supply MANY MANY graphical tools to configure their switches and routers

also .... the best gui that I have seen so far is the one on the system put out by switchvox.com ... not free though

I am using asterisk in my home as well. I am running it on a soekris box (soekris.com) from a compact flash card. I have an nfs mount to my fileserver for my voicemail

Re:Who needs a GUI? (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265257)

You do realize that most Cisco routers and switches these days do have at least an HTTP GUI built in. Then of course, there are the top-dollar "network management" applications like Cisco Works which in turn plug into Network Management Systems like Tivoli and Unicenter, all GUI. But, you knew that right.

Setting up extensions in asterisk is rather simple, once you know how to do it in Asterisk. But, if your more knowledgeable in Nortel's BCM GUI or their Meridian command line, you are likely to be lost with Asterisk and will appreciate having a GUI.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (1)

Kris2k (676294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265267)

Command line interface (CLI) is the way to go for real PBX systems. There is no GUI out there that really takes advantage of all the features of what Asterisk can do. And if you do need a gui to do something, chances are, you shouldn't be running your own PBX.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265718)

unless of course you need the functionality that a PBX provides and cannot afford the technical expertise to have it done all 1337 and stuff

Re:Who needs a GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265890)

This is the attitude most commonly found among those who grew up on Windoze and rebelled against their parents by going to obscure, obtuse and complicated-looking CLIs. It makes them feel smarter than the guys on the football team who still use Windows.


Those of us who went from punch cards to CLIs through the agony of early versions of X know the value and comfort of a good GUI, especially for making other people self-sufficient so they don't bother you all the time.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (2, Insightful)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265275)

A system administrator who's managing a network that contains a vast number of voice & data routing devices would probably prefer a GUI.
Also the receptionist who is asked to add new users to the PBX would be lost in a world of shit if she didn't have a GUI.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265280)

Actually, Cisco does have a couple of GUI's for its routers. I was helping migrate some people off a Cisco router to a competitor, and they were upset how poor the new GUI solution was.

So Cisco apparently does use their GUI to keep some customers happy.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (1)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265285)

Just because you can tickle the keys, doesn't mean you should have to. Actually, Cisco knows this and does have GUI software for much of their hardware configuration and it is ever so much faster than typing over one thousand lines of code every time and yes, I've typed that many on a Cisco router before. I thought my fingers would bleed and my eyes fall out.

You cannot overestimate the chances of keyboard typos either when the user has to type in that much. One wrong entry not caught and the config saved and oops, no entry into the new paperweight.

Humans are visually oriented critters and GUIs just make more sense. Drag and drop interface dynamics have been well known forever and they should be used for easy quick administration. I should have my time freed up from inane drudgery for more serious involved tasks and thats why there are people catering to that need and want and I for one, welcome our new GUI writing overlords.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265306)

Cisco HAS a GUI for it's routers and switches. They also have a product called Call Manager for VOIP that's it's own PBX. I'm the admin for ours at work... that and Unity for voicemail/unified messaging and IPCC Express for our small support call center. It's all managed through a web browser interface for the most part. Some IVR apps are written with a cisco tool, but even they are java based, but it's all pretty cool.

The home PBX for the consumer will be coming, it's just a matter of time... it's all still a little complex right now, but it's coming... just take a look at Cisco's consumer (arguably) line, Linksys and a product they have that works with Vonage, but lets you do voicemail and some intelligent routing... more is on the way I'm sure.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265327)

Congratulations on being the admin for a GUI. Your years of education has certainly prepared you for an exciting short-term career as a push-button monkey.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (4, Insightful)

Nashville Guy (585073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265370)

I see there are a few CLI purists in this thread, and I understand their point. Granted, a GUI adds bloat. It isn't as pure. And yes, major PBX systems like Meridian are all CLI.

On the other hand, GUI's are a blessing for people that are smart enough to know what needs to happen but who might need a reminder or two to hit every config point. When I can see an option in a GUI panel versus having to juggle 60 or so config files in my mind I am a lot better off.

My guess is that most FOSS folks here are on the data and not voice networking side. Conversely, I just got done overseeing a T1 circuit install for a customer move and had an opportunity to talk with the PBX guy. I mentioned Asterisk and got a blank look in return.

If a GUI would help spur adoption of this technology by making it a tad easier to use for us data types, I am all for it.

Re:Who needs a GUI? (3, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265632)

And yes, major PBX systems like Meridian are all CLI.

I used to work on a Aspect phonesystem that has the complete callflow in a GUI kind of way. Just drag and drop the different steps and you were done.

Although not completely easy, it is a lot easier to do on more complicated callflows. A lot easier then working on a sort of basic where you needed much more knowledge on another system.

Another advatages was that you could inform both management and people what happend in a phonecall by just doing a printout and follow the system. Also very easy to addept if waiting times are too long, when there are hollidays or to insert emergency messages.

Perhaps not needed if all you need is a message when you are closed and an aswering service for those that are not in. It will become handy if you have several numbers recieving larger amounts of numbers from different sources fr different reasons with different priorities.

Or even first start with one number and then want to insert extra possibilaties as your company grows, without having the need for a programmer.

I am in Belgium so what we had was naturlay first language choice, then department choice, then depending on the department another extra choice, then connection to the different people if they were in, otherwise to others. All depending on the language skills of the people as well.

e.g. see that if the person had a question about his bill that he would not be connected to the reception.

A lot more choices and options were involved and we were working on even more.

Asterisk is many things, but not without hardware (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265216)

Asterisk is a FOSS PBX (private branch exchange) and Voice over IP gateway. The PBX part means that you have phones on your desks that don't connect to the real phone lines unless you want to dial out of the company. The VOIP gateway means that it can talk to SIP and H323 systems, as well as having its own protocol, IAX. Most of the useful features require extra hardware, called FXO and FXS cards. These cards allow it to talk to the phone company lines and to talk to the phones on the desk. Without the extra hardware, you just have a computer that can talk to software phones and take voice mail. You cannot just use regular modems. It is very flexible, and if you have two or three offices, it can save you long distance charges by routing those calls over the internet. This is just a basic idea of what it can do, it what Asterisk is used for. Check out "Asterisk at home" for a fairly simple installation that includes a good web interface.

VoIP eliminates hardware need, FXO cheap anyway (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266084)

If you get your outgoing line from a VoIP provider such as Vonage, Packet8 or Broadvoice, you don't need any hardware for the outgoing side of Asterisk. If you don't, you only need a card that costs $6.85 + shipping on ebay.

For the stations, you either need an FXS card (about $100 per extension) or an IP phone (about $70 per phone) or a headset and software phone (about $10 per extension). Since most people aren't satisfied with the pure software phones, it's the hardware cost per extension that matters.

The Asterisk computer itself usually costs from $100 to $200; for "real" use you want a battery backup, and that's included in that estimate, as well as one FXO (outgoing) card. Then the best solution is IP phones for the stations, at whatever the cheapest you can get on ebay. You can get them for $40 sometimes, but usually it will be more.

Will it take off? (4, Interesting)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265251)

It wasn't long ago (still is in some parts) that PBX tech was primarily proprietory software running on expensive proprietory hardware.

As most PBX manufacturers are moving towards converged networks, VoIP, etc - more and more focus is being placed on Software and standards making these systems cheaper and cheaper.

Asterisk will have a lot of competition in the small biz market. I really love the technology, and think the project's fantastic, but if I were running a business and looking to purchase a PBX, I'd probably stear clear of Asterisk.
Purely because the Telephone System is the communications hub of most businesses. It's the one thing you don't expect to go down - so reliability is critical. There's no vendor backup, etc - same with most Open Source software, and while that wouldn't be an issue with most other applications - PBX's are a different kettle of fish.

I really hope it works out and at a minimum, hopefully it'll draw PBX costs down, but as the vendor based systems cost is currently very low and given that the margins for support, etc are also low in this field, I don't expect too much from the biz side of these things.

HOWEVER, if someone can translate the tech into something that can really save a business money and they can garuntee uptime, then they'll do well.

Re:Will it take off? (2, Interesting)

The_Morgan (89220) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265532)

I can't imagine that you have actually priced out a 'vendor' system. They are anything but low priced. After being quoted 20 grand for a 15-20 phone system and being told that support costs will be outragous, you would do exactly what my boss did.

Keep the ancient system that was fried by lighting. God knows the PC tech will keep the system limping along 15 years past its due date.

Re:Will it take off? (1)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265824)

Unless that pricing also includes some fancy sofware addon or design, you're being ripped off.

There are small systems capable of doing the same sort of thing as Asterisk, if not more for around $1000-$2000 for that number of users.

Re:Will it take off? (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265599)

There's no vendor backup

Of course there is, if you buy it from a vendor -- and there are plenty of them out there. Even with a 3rd party providing pretested hardware, service/support, etc, the price is vastly lower than the proprietary competition. Need uptime? There are plenty of failover technologies out there, and no good excuse (other than the cost of having extra hardware and connectivity) for not using them.

Sure, using Asterisk means you have the option of going the cheap way out -- it doesn't mean you have to, though.

Re:Will it take off? (3, Informative)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266172)

Purely because the Telephone System is the communications hub of most businesses. It's the one thing you don't expect to go down - so reliability is critical.

Do you have some inside knowledge that indicates that Asterisk is unreliable? I hadn't heard that.

There's no vendor backup, etc - same with most Open Source software, and while that wouldn't be an issue with most other applications - PBX's are a different kettle of fish.

I don't know what you mean by "vendor backup". If you buy a Asterisk-based solution then it is backed by your solution provider. They have access to the source code in the same way that a proprietary software vendor has access to the source code. On the other hand, unlike the situation with a proprietary software vendor, there is competition between solution providers with equal access to the source code.

It's the one thing you don't expect to go down - so reliability is critical.

Google.com and Amazon.com are both based in large part on open source software. Would you say that reliability is not "critical" for their websites?

I'm by no means an open source zealot (I write proprietary software) but I can't let illogic just pass by. There is some highly reliable open source software and some highly reliable proprietary software. And there is some crappy open source and proprietary software out there.

Re:Will it take off? (1)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266576)

From a personal perspective, I'd use it for home and mess about with it because I have the time and interest.
However, the open source solution provider thing doesn't really do it for me as a buyer.

Sure, it may not break, but what if it does? For example, I could call solution provider x but he maybe unable to fix my fault as the source or frontend or OS or hardware that they use may be different that what's provided by solution provider y.
So if my solution provider goes out of business, there could be trouble for me.

Obviously there's a lot of other situations with other Open Source software where this works which is cool. You mentioned Google and Amazon both of which rely on Open Source software at a critical level.
The difference is, these places (google, amazon, etc) have a great deal of internal focus surrounding the uptime of these systems because they live and die by their IT infrastructure. Most businesses don't (well, not as much as google or amazon anyway). They just want something that works and not have to worry about these sorts of things.

Asterisk may work well, and may be reliable but I don't think it'd be a very easy system to support, as it's incarnation will surely be different from solution provider to solution provider in terms of Hardware, OS, Asterisk version, etc.

Re:Will it take off? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266973)

Just hire a consultant to install and manage it for you. Why is that so hard to understand?

Re:Will it take off? (1)

Ewan (5533) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267365)

Our PBX provider did go out of business, they were called SDX and were huge, now they're part of Avaya who don't support our product.

Being a business based on open-source or closed-source doesn't make a difference to our problem, now noone can support our old SDX system properly and there's no upgrade path for it.

Money Making Opportunity. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265281)

"gardel writes "The open-source PBX is popular, powerful and affordable. But setting up and maintaining Asterisk in its distributed form is a technical challenge for even the most accomplished of geeks. "

Translation: If you want to make money with OSS? Make it complicated, and difficult to use.

I challenge the technically challenged assertion. (1, Informative)

bardothodal (864753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265291)

I'm a Linux noob and even I setup Asterisk@Home successfully. I bought a $6 Digium FXO card signed up with FWDout and off we go for free worldwide phone service.

Re:I challenge the technically challenged assertio (2, Insightful)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265328)

Try it without the @Home bit. The whole point of this article is that simplified graphical front ends are good, which is what you are seeing with Asterisk@Home.

Re:I challenge the technically challenged assertio (1)

bardothodal (864753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265399)

ahhh i.c. , think I could have done it either way considering I didn't use AMP for the various .conf editting for fwdout or setting up the card. AMP definately makes editting call groups easy.

Using Asterisk on a call center (1)

PinkX (607183) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265308)

I've been looking for a solution to a call center related problem. Besides the fact of leaving a 'written' (database driven) register of all incoming calls (day and hour, who called and who answered the call, and the subject of it), I'd like to record the whole call and attach it to its register. Privacy statements apart (users who call would be welcomed by a greeting which says that the call could be saved in order to improve QA and such), I've been wondering at this problem some time now and perhaps Asterisk could be the solution to it (perhaps I'm wrong - don't know), if anyone has some experience on this which could give some advice ... special hardware involved, etc. would be greatly appreciated

Re:Using Asterisk on a call center (2, Interesting)

masonc (125950) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265413)

You are on the right track. The Call Detail Records (CDR) are comprehensive and there are packages to analyse them. I am also using a Call Accounting package that does costing by groups of extensions.

Call Monitoring, the recordsing of each call tot he ahrddrive is a native application and I am about to implement for a stock trading company I am working with.
Asterisk is stable, powerful and free. If you are using IP phones and routing all calls through a VOIP provider, all you need is a linux server. I you need to connect to the PSTN lines, a 2 in 2 out card is only $500, and there are much larger interfaces for large scale analog phones and pstn lines.
Contrary to opinion, learning to configure Asterisk is not hard, it just takes some time and a chance to experiment. I implemented it as our home office system first before offering it to clients. My family are fed up with the often broken system but you have to have that chance to play around if you are going to understand the dialplan options.
Send me an email if you need any help (masonc ..at..masonc .. dot com)

Re:Using Asterisk on a call center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265826)

You may be on the right track as .-1 says (oops - VAXNotes flashback :)

Just remember that call center PBXen are Production (with a capital "P") systems. Have a professional build, install and maintain it, at least until you and at least one other person know that they can do it themselves.

Otherwise, you'll get your a** fired at the call center manager's request, and you'll give Asterisk a black eye in the bargain.

Re:Using Asterisk on a call center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266045)

Also (same AC here), I actually RTFParent again, and you're asking about digital recording. That's a whole other can of eels.

VoIP (is it VoIP? you didn't say) digital recorders typically use packet sniffers to grab and save the VoIP packets. This gets to be a hard thing to do well after about 3 phones.

If you've got a TDM (old-skool, non-VoIP) phone system, you're talking about some fairly serious money. And most of the vendors in this space are retards (e.g., NICE Systems).

Good luck.

Re:Using Asterisk on a call center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266969)

A cheap commercial solution like xc-ast http://demo.xcept.it/xc-ast [xcept.it] does it all and more. Have a look.

Re:Using Asterisk on a call center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12267408)

yes asterisk can record all calls, see the wiki
http://www.voip-info.org/tiki-index.php?page =Aster isk%20cmd%20Monitor

Rolled Asterix out this weekend (3, Interesting)

Colin E. McDonald (837162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265357)

Rolled out an Asterix PBX this weekend. Snom 360 IP POE phones connected to Fedora Core 3
box (HP DC 7100) with two Digium FXO cards. VoIP from the desk sets to server then outbound PSTN
(Public Switched Telephone Network). Used the Asterisk Management Portal front-end GUI so the
local users could have complete control over the management of the system. All I can say is....sweet.

Re:Rolled Asterix out this weekend (1)

TheVidiot (549995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266358)

If you'd be so kind as to share some info... This is a question I cannot get an answer for: As per your case, can more than two outbound, inbound or combination thereof calls be made at any one time?
So the 360 users only need two PSTN lines to handle all in and out calls? Meaning 100 people can, say, all call out at the same time using only two PSTN lines? If so, that very cool! Thanks!

Shouldn't this read (1)

caller9 (764851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265425)

In it's death-throws PBX attempts to be user friendly. VoIP laughs while twisting the knife and requesting additional funding. Several trunks cry.

Re:Shouldn't this read (1)

caller9 (764851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265985)

I retract my previous statement and plead ignorance. I also know where you glass house is located.

The article fails to link to.... (4, Informative)

Rob from RPI (4309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265433)

the most important and popular Asterisk site. Specifically, voip-info [voip-info.com] - a wiki where you'll find documentation on everything you'd like to know about Asterisk and various ways of administering it.

I'm doing the Documentation for AMP [coalescentsystems.ca] which is probably (IMO) the best admin tool, and it's what is used for 99% of the administration of Asterisk@Home [sourceforge.net] . AMP is rapidly becoming more than just a basic interface to Asterisk tho - the current CVS handles LCR, ZAP Trunks (eg, physical connections to the PSTN via ISDN or normal 2-wire FXO/FXS), Call Groups, Inbound call queues with everything you'd expect ("Your call is 4th in the queue. Your expected wait time is 3 minutes"). The current CVS of Asterisk, when used with AMP, gives you attended transfers, call (audio) recording, and a whole pile of other stuff.

Probably the best thing for someone new to VoIP is to get the latest version of Asterisk@Home (which is 0.9 at the time of this post) and an old machine, a couple of soft-phones (VoIP software that lets you make calls from your PC using your sound card) and a FWD [fwdnet.net] number and start playing.

Feel free to leave me voicemail on my FWD number - 47876 - if you have any questions or comments!

--Rob

Re:The article fails to link to.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265507)

voip-info.org, I think, although it's slashdotted. voip-info takes you to something in german.

Crap. Wrong link (3, Informative)

Rob from RPI (4309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265624)

That should be voip-info.org. I'm so used to mozilla just auto-completing, I type 'voip' and push enter in my address bar - I don't think about the top domain. (Annoyed Grunt).

However, voip-info has been having significant performance issues, so I think that *not* linking to it was a good idea. It looks like it's been slashdotted just by having the VoIP meme high in the geek global awareness.

--Rob

WHY ARE INDIANS SO UGLY AND BROWN? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265480)

fuck their sad appearance.
screw that.

get a free one... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265534)

asteriskathome.sourceforge.net

to hell with the pay versions. *@home has an awesome web frontend and allows you to do the manual magic that no pbx on the planet can even think of doing.

the hard part is finding sip phones that have fully programmable buttons that dont cost you 2 arms and 3 legs.

Corrected links... (3, Informative)

Rob from RPI (4309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12265595)

The above article forgets to link to the most important and popular Asterisk site. Specifically, voip-info [voip-info.org] - a wiki where you'll find documentation on everything you'd like to know about Asterisk and various ways of administering it.

I'm doing the Documentation for AMP [coalescentsystems.ca] which is probably (IMO) the best admin tool, and it's what is used for 99% of the administration of Asterisk@Home [sourceforge.net] . AMP is rapidly becoming more than just a basic interface to Asterisk tho - the current CVS handles LCR, ZAP Trunks (eg, physical connections to the PSTN via ISDN or normal 2-wire FXO/FXS), Call Groups, Inbound call queues with everything you'd expect ("Your call is 4th in the queue. Your expected wait time is 3 minutes"). The current CVS of Asterisk, when used with AMP, gives you attended transfers, call (audio) recording, and a whole pile of other stuff.

Probably the best thing for someone new to VoIP is to get the latest version of Asterisk@Home (which is 0.9 at the time of this post) and an old machine, a couple of soft-phones (VoIP software that lets you make calls from your PC using your sound card) and a FWD [fwdnet.net] number and start playing.

Feel free to leave me voicemail on my FWD number - 47876 - if you have any questions or comments!

--Rob

Cottage industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12265667)

Wouldn't it be more of a VoIP industry?

*rimshot*

Asterisk in actual use (3, Interesting)

syslog (535048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266057)

We develop some highly sophisticated field services software (GPS tracking, jobs sent to phones, black boxes, GIS etc etc). One of our key modules is "Call Ahead". When a cable guy, for example, completes installation at customer A, our software automatically calls the next customer on his job list, informing them that the cable guy is on his way, and will be there in x minutes. We do this via Asterisk (obviously). We charge our client (the cable company in this example) a small fee per call. If not for asterisk, we would have had to use some proprietery solution from Avaya, Intertel Tech etc, along with service from a carrier like MCI or SBC etc. This would have cost BIG dollars. We could not have provided our clients with an economical solution. This is a perfect example of open source enabling a business that could not happen otherwise.

Asterisk is a really extremely full featured high-end telco switch. The configurations is a little painful, but the quality is superb.

naeem

Agilis Systems [agilissystems.com]

Asterisk reporting (1)

hydrino (131216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266249)

I've been using a new reporting engine for asterisk and love it! Our old PBX is going to be a boat anchor in a month. It's from a small company called Somix and it's called Plumtrack (I have no clue what the "plum" means :))
Our company luckily has a geek that knows whats up.
http://www.somix.com/products/plumtrack.php [somix.com]
Asterisk ROCKS!

Why not just get an Avaya system 75 for under $5K (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266265)

Try Ebay - you can get a reliable Avaya System 75 for under $5K - add an Avaya VOIP module - and your PBX turns into a VOIP PBX.

Why worry about PC quality when you can get a cheapo System 75 for dirt cheap?

Asterisk lets you be really creative. (2, Informative)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266362)

Since the API is really open and can call your own little procedures in just about whatever script language you want makes for some really wild features being added to the Asterisk world that mystify traditional PBX people. Things like quick routing to voicemail or somewhere else based upon your AIM logged-in status.

The possibilities are huge.

I've just started cataloguing [fastriver.com] some of the more creative ones.

hardware required by asterisk quite expensive (1)

panxing_personal (852995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266455)

my impression is that the recommended hardware price with support is higher than Intel's product with Microsoft's solution. microsoftwith intel maybe better.

Re:hardware required by asterisk quite expensive (1)

laptop006 (37721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267160)

No it isn't, compared to a proper PBX it's quite cheap. Now you can use totally top-end phones and end up with a huge bill (Cisco 7970's for example at ~ AU$1200ea), but if you buy sensible phones that's not an issue.

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12266573)

For it. I don'7 take a llok at the

Anyone hosting Asterisk to small businesses? (1)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266945)

I wonder if there's a market for combining a VOIP service like Vonage, with a customizable hosted service like Salesforce.com. That way, all the customer needs is a reliable net connection and a bunch of IP phones (or POTS phones with POTS to IP connectors). If everything's configurable via a web interface, why does the Asterisk server need to be at each office? A VOIP services company could just host a cluster of Asterisk servers with multiple businesses on it.

Network QoS and voicemail security would be something you'd have to focus on. You could still push out storage to the client if they wanted it though.

YACSA - Yet another cliche supporting article (2, Informative)

mamladm (867366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12267446)

Unfortunately, this article lends yet more support to those who like to dismiss Asterisk based on the cliche that it can only be handled by hard core Linux geeks.

Sure, if you want to use Asterisk to its full potential, then you have to learn a thing or two. But that isn't any different from any other tool, be it Apache, IIS, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel, InDesign, Photoshop, Bryce, Final Cut, etc etc etc.

The important thing however is that you can get started with Asterisk very easily and without any special skillset.

The article doesn't mention anything about the fact that you can download an Asterisk installer for MacOS X along with a few configuration wizards and have a running PBX within a few minutes. It also doesn't mention that there is a similar Asterisk installer for Windows. At present, the Mac is the easiest platform to set up a basic PBX with Asterisk, but it shouldn't be too long before there will be configuration wizards for Asterisk on Windows, too.

Asterisk for MacOS X: http://www.sunrise-tel.com/ [sunrise-tel.com]

Asterisk for Windows: http://www.asteriskwin32.com/ [asteriskwin32.com]

How can we expect decision makers in companies to consider Asterisk if it is always presented as a Linux toy which requires Linux gurus to set up and run. That's precisely the kind of perception the incumbent proprietary system vendors love to promote when they pinch their overpriced stuff.

Let those people know that Asterisk is multi-platform and have them play with it on their platform of choice and there will soon be more mainstream deployments and more ease of use front ends.

Other than for Linux, Asterisk is so far available for FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonflyBSD and Irix (both through the NetBSD package manager), MacOSX/Darwin, Windows and Solaris. Zaptel drivers (to use telephony interface cards) are available or in the works for FreeBSD, NetBSD, MacOSX and Solaris. If that doesn't deserve mentioning in an article about an Asterisk cottage industry, then I don't know what does.
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