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Open Source PBX Feature Article 

November 06, 2006

A Complete Wrap-up of AstriCon 2006

By TMCnet Special Guest
Pauline Shiu and Michael Becce


Asterisk (News - Alert), the leading open source telephony platform, is flourishing and AstriCon – the annual Asterisk conference and exhibition – has become the place to learn about it. Developers, resellers, IT managers and contact center managers grabbed their ten gallon hats and headed to Dallas to learn or to showcase their own Asterisk innovations. There were sessions for all levels, novice to expert, and intimate networking opportunities to meet a literal “who’s who” of open source telephony. 700 attendees packed sessions given by key evangelists covering everything from “An Introduction to Asterisk” to “How to Build an Asterisk-based Call Center”. 
Asterisk continues to attract attention in the SMB market, but has also penetrated the enterprise, service provider and carrier markets. This is all due, in large part, to a bevy of new high availability offerings recently launched. High availability was a recurring theme among vendors and speakers. Vendors such as Ranch Networks (News - Alert) and RedFone (see summary of vendor announcements below)showcased high availability solutions. More experienced and savvy resellers are fueling Asterisk’s growth in the SMB market. SIPBox, a reseller who left the hallowed ground as a Cisco reseller is finding more (and larger) customers with substantially higher margins. They have already doubled in size and were at the show to recruit more talent.
According to Bill Miller, VP of Marketing at Digium, “The reseller channels get to make higher margins and a better chance to win deals. Here’s why over the next 18 to 24 months the market share for Asterisk-based solutions is going to skyrocket. We are now at the point where the products are stable and applications are driving the solution. Contact centers are just one of many driving the solution in higher end system. Newer technology and newer solutions, competing against the top tier, Asterisk and Digium are now ready to do that.”
Skyrocket indeed: AstriCon has already started booking registration for attendees and vendors for next year (currently planned for LA). AstriCon has become in many ways the center of the Asterisk world “It’s different from many trade shows, because you can’t leave this show without learning something,” said Steve Sokol, of Sokol & Associates, AstriCon’s producer. “We wanted to make sure there was real value in attending AstriCon, not simply a networking event. Whether it’s learning about new applications, features, and functions or discovering a new business model, everyone will leave here with something.”
If you came to network, though, you were doing that with the brightest minds in all of telephony. The Digium All Conference Party provided a great venue to casually address a variety of those in the Asterisk community (although you needed to be careful not to step on the Asterisk-enabled, cell phone-controlled Roomba robotic vacuum).
The show was highlighted by a keynote given by Asterisk creator and Digium president and CEO, Mark Spencer. Adorned in his customary “geek couture” T-Shirt, this one read, “I'm trying to change the world, but they won't give me the source code.” Apropos, as Spencer’s keynote was titled “Asterisk: Taking over the World in 5 Easy Steps.” In his usual whimsical flair, he began by teaching everyone the correct way to pronounce Asterisk. Mark was careful to give credit to those who continue to improve and promote open source telephony; even going so far as to applauded competitors (a classy move, as some have been openly critical of Digium). He spent much of his time in an open Q&A session, much of which was dedicated to discovering the needs and desires of the Asterisk community. You can now access presentations from this year’s show at And, soon, Mark Spencer’s keynote will be available; so be sure to check the site for this update!
Here is a summary of vendor announcements made at this years AstriCon:
Attractel, developer of state-of-the-art VoIP solutions, exhibited a suite of Attractel family products at AstriCon. Zoiper is their SIP/IAX support softphone that is packed with a variety of conventional and advanced features for Windows/Linux/Mac OS systems.Comes in Free and Biz version. Their Predilux has more to offer than just a predictive dialer with different modes to best fit Call Centre needs, the Service Line Platform offers service line providers a versatile tool to easily manage their core business and their Rate Engine is a real-time application for ITSPs to flexibly delineate and maintain their rate and markdown plans.
AudioCodes successfully completed certification testing with Digium’s Asterisk Business Edition Software for AudioCodes’ media gateway platforms. Some AudioCodes SIP Gateway products that completed certification testing are the TP260/SIP, Mediant™ 1000 and the MediaPack™ to ensure interoperability and compatibility when integrated with Digium’s Asterisk Business Edition software. AudioCodes and Digium’s collaboration will offer better design options for telephony developers and enable rapid deployment of high quality and scalable SIP-based solutions.
Digium partnered with Polycom (News - Alert) and AudioCodes for added conveniences and benefits such as rapid feature development for SIP-based telephony solutions with Polycom and rapid deployment of high quality and scalable SIP-based solutions with AudioCodes. See Polycom and AudioCodes summaries for more information.
LumenVox provides speech recognition for Fonality’s trixbox Application Platform, through integration into the platform. The Lumenvox (News - Alert) Speech Engine, which recognizes words and phrases, will be part of trixbox 2.0. The partnership brings point-and-click installation and management of the LumenVox speech recognition to the trixbox community.
Mexuar launched its Corraleta Technology SDK for seamless VoIP Click-to-talk applications. This new solution will enable rapid development and deployment of VoIP click-to-talk apps for online businesses so that any website visitor can use the company’s web browser and PC to make free calls and talk with sales or support in the company’s contact center within ten seconds. The Corraleta-developed application can be used to initiate calls to the contact center via a button on a web page, or can trigger a callback from the contact center to the user’s chosen telephone. In addition to enabling IP calls, the Corraleta SDK can also provide information about the user’s online experience to the merchant’s customer service agent when the call is initiated. The agent software can display this information directly or use it to trigger lookups in company databases to retrieve details such as customer records, purchase histories and so on.
MIX Networks
MIX Networks, a service provider, offering a full suite of high-value next-generation VoIP solutions to residential, business and reseller customers has recent implemented DUNDi (a peer to peer system for locating Internet gateways to telephony services created by Digium) to ease of network administration, add stability and flexibility to its already strong network foundation. In keeping with the goal of delivering quality VoIP services to end users, MIX Networks builds a strong, redundant end-to-end MPLS VoIP network.
NetLogic announced “PBX-Preferred” Certification program that is based on the rigorous testing of application IPBX software and systems which includes bench testing to ensure proper SIP trunk connectivity and quality, beta testing in the field with actual business users over NetLogic SIP trunks and implementing in a “general availability” environment with NetLogic SIP trunks.
PBXtra™ Standard and PBXtra Call Center from Fonality; Switchvox SOHO and Switchvox SMB; and Digium’s Asterisk Appliance have earned PBX-Preferred Certifications. IPBX software earning the NetLogic PBX-Preferred Certification include: Digium’s Asterisk Business Edition; Asterisk; and Free PBX.
NETXUSA (News - Alert)
NETXUSA Inc. has established a West Coast Distribution center in Henderson Nevada. The new location will provide a larger window of time to have products shipped while realizing increased savings on freight charges. As in the South Carolina corporate office a full compliment of VoIP products will be available for immediate shipment.
Polycom and Digium partner to offer integrated SIP-based telephony solution for SMB market. This multiyear partnership will cover development and marketing of the SIP-based telephony solution and will provide SMBs with a tightly integrated, standards-based solution with simplified provisioning, broad support for Asterisk telephony features on the Polycom phones and the delivery of new capabilities. Polycom’s SIP desktop and conference phones will be combined with Digium’s Asterisk Business Edition, at a lower price point than proprietary systems and with added control, rapid feature development and more. With this agreement, Polycom becomes Digium’s preferred VoIP phone provider.
Ranch Networks
Ranch Networks provides optimal VoIP solution to Intermedi@ Marketing Solutions for 1,000 seat call center, across five facilities. Intermedi@ Marketing Solutions will now gain access to Ranch Network’s unique features such as VoIP Matrix Technology™, 1+1 High Availability and Media Bridging through RN 40 appliances to ensure call quality and reliability. This unified VoIP PBX and predictive dialer based on the Asterisk and VICIDAL open source projects will also provide a more secure network across Asterisk server farms.
RedFone announced their next generation foneBRIDGE (T1 or E1 PRI-to-Ethernet bridge) that provides Asterisk with high availability, fail-over capabilities and load balancing. Normally offered through partner dealers, the foneBRIDGE is an integrated black-box “appliance” designed to streamline installation and enable redundant design of Asterisk based VoIP systems.
SIPBox appoints Roger Gusloff as new chief financial officer. Roger brings over 18 years of experience in financial leadership as a CFO, consultant, and a senior accountant. Most recently, he was CFO of Acme Refining Company, where he was responsible for the complete management of the company's financial position. During his tenure, Roger oversaw multiple strategic acquisitions and managed assets exceeding $40 million. Roger began his career at KPMG Peat Marwick, where he spent several years as a supervising senior accountant before starting his own consulting firm, Gusloff & Associates. Roger was responsible for all facets of the business' operations including the financial management as well as sales development, and employee and contract management.
Star2Star gives TAPI dialer back to open source community. This TAPI (telephony application programming interface) is used for connecting telephone services to a computer running Windows and can integrate with any Windows-based product such as ACT and Outlook. Star2Star’s TAPI Dialer software allows users to “click to call” via the Internet and will work with general Asterisk installations.
T2 Supply
T2 Supply unveils new line of video conferencing products, the HDX 9000 series. New products include the HDX 9001™, HDX 9002™ and HDX 9004™. The HDX 9001™, HDX 9002™ both have four professional high definition video inputs and three video outputs with standard definition video at 30 fps; the 9002 has an added feature of 1280x720 (720p) resolution – the highest quality video resolution available in the market today. The HDX 9004™ has five professional high definition video inputs, four video outputs, standard definition video at 30 fps and 1280x720 (720p) resolution. Both the 9002 and 9003 can be used with the Polycom Eagle-Eye camera for the UltimateHD experience.
Fonality introduced trixbox 2.0, the newest version of its easy to use open source telephony and application platform. This new version provides the trixbox community with increased reliability and many new features including a point-and-click, web-based graphical user interface (GUI) and expanded LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/PERL) stack to LAAMPS by providing Asterisk telephony and SugarCRM. Additionally, trixbox 2.0 includes FreePBX, FOP, HUDlite and web-based package manager which allow users to upgrade individual components of their deployment versus having to reinstall from scratch with each upgrade.
VoxBone announced support for the Inter-Asterisk exchange protocol (IAX) from Digium. In addition to IAX, VoxBone already supports SIP trunking services, providing customers with a choice of standards to meet their particular needs.
For the first time, Xorcom presented their full suite of all-FXO Astribanks. Xorcom, creator of Asterisk-aligned hardware, demonstrated two Astribank-32 FXS connected to a TS-1 unit and also presented the 16 port and 8 port versions with analog phones. Since all Astribank units are USB connected to the Asterisk server, implementation is very easy. There is no need to shut down the machine, open panels or run into Ethernet issues. The Astribank units are controlled by the Asterisk server and do not have their own identity like gateways do, which simplifies the maintenance significantly. The integrator deals with configuring only one unit – the Asterisk Server. The TS-1 is an embedded Asterisk server and has a web interface, one half-size PCI slot and 2 x USB 2.0 connections. Special features include USB, disk, complete backup and restore, updates from the internet and more.
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