Feeds

Asterisk – a star of the future?

Open source telephony is go

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

asterisk logo Larry Ellison has his super yacht, Bill Gates has his humanitarian fund. For Mark Spencer, the symbol of his success is a hot tub.

It may not be the most expensive trophy, but Spencer’s achievement may well prove to be just as revolutionary - turning the world of enterprise telephony on its head.

The tub, now installed at his Huntsville, Alabama home, was bought for him as a token of gratitude by 150 software developers who work on the platform he initiated - Asterisk, the Linux-based IP private branch exchange (PBX) software.

Spencer started work on Asterisk when he was running a Linux support company. “I was still a college student,” he says. “I wanted a phone system and I wasn’t going to buy one for several thousand dollars.”

In 2001, he decided that the open source PBX business would be a better bet than the support game, and decided to refocus the business around it.

His company is now called Digium. It provides Asterisk-based PBXes and telephone hardware, and sponsors the Asterisk open source project. He is competing in a world of office telephone hardware dominated by the big telephone equipment players, such as Nortel, Alcatel and Siemens.

Reliability is key

Running free software on a generic server is obviously much cheaper than buying dedicated PBXs, which typically sell at high margins.

However, in the telephone business, reliability is key. The traditional PBX companies have decades of experience of making telephone systems, and many companies are prepared to pay a premium for the reassurance that their systems won’t fail.

However, the shift towards voice over IP is altering the traditional balance of power in the PBX market. IP PBXs are increasingly becoming the default standard.

This has allowed new players into the market, notably Cisco. And it may open the door for the open source movement.

There are various contenders in the marketplace, such as Pingtel, but Asterisk has established itself as the number one contender. It has taken off quickest amongst companies which are already comfortable with Linux.

“The direct customers tend to be people that are fully Linux savvy,” Spencer says. “If someone knows how to configure an apache web server that is the level of sophistication they need to be able to configure Asterisk.”

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Community platform

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.