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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[February 23, 2005]

Know Thy Keynoters: Mark Spencer

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist


On Thursday, February 23 rd, at 10:15 a.m. Mark Spencer will deliver his keynote address to ITEXPO.

Mark Spencer founded Linux Support Services in 1999 while still a computer engineering student at Auburn University. When faced with the high cost of buying a PBX, Mark simply used his Linux PC and knowledge of C code to write his own.


This was the beginning of Asterisk, the open source PBX, and caused Spencer to shift his business focus from Linux support to supporting Asterisk and opening up the telecom market. Linux Support Services is now known as Digium, and is bringing open source to the telecom market while gaining a foothold in the telecom industry.

Spencer strongly believes that every technology he creates should be given back to the community – Asterisk is fully open source and free of charge, while it has become as robust as the leading and most-expensive PBXs.

Spencer holds a degree in computer engineering from Auburn University, and is president of Digium, Inc. He has also led the creation of several Linux-based open source applications, most notably Asterisk, the Open Source PBX, and Gaim Instant Messenger.

In September 2004 Spencer introduced Asterisk version 1.0, as well as the 1.0 releases of Zaptel, the software drivers for Digium hardware, and libPRI, the GPL-licensed PRI stack supporting North American and EuroISDN PRI protocols.

Asterisk is a complete PBX in software. It runs on Linux and provides the features expected from PBX and more. Asterisk does voice over IP in three protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

Asterisk provides Voicemail services with Directory, Call Conferencing, Interactive Voice Response, Call Queuing. It has support for three-way calling, caller ID services, ADSI, SIP and H.323 (as both client and gateway). It requires no additional hardware for VoIP.  

For interconnection with digital and analog telephony equipment, Asterisk supports a number of hardware devices, most notably all of the hardware manufactured by Asterisk's sponsors, Digium. Digium has single and quad span T1 and E1 interfaces for interconnection to PRI lines and channel banks as well as a single port FXO card and a one to four-port modular FXS and FXO card.

Also supported are the Internet Line Jack and Internet Phone Jack products from Quicknet.

Asterisk is primarily developed on GNU/Linux for x/86. It is known to compile and run on GNU/Linux for PPC along with OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X Jaguar. Other platforms and standards-based UNIX-like operating systems should be reasonably easy to port for anyone with the time and requisite skill to do so.


David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.


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