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Talking with Jose Luis Landivar Chavez, VP of Sales & Marketing, Elastix

By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

Elastix (News - Alert) (, built on Asterisk, is open source unified communications server software that brings together IP PBX (News - Alert), email, IM, faxing and collaboration functionality. It has a web interface and includes call center functions with predictive dialing. Elastix originated in March 2006 from PaloSanto Solutions of Ecuador. Yours Truly recently spoke with Jose Luis Landivar Chavez, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Elastix.

JLLC: We created the Elastix software about four years ago using available components of the time. When Asterisk (News - Alert) became famous we decided to use it as a sort of ‘underlayer’ of our software, incorporating Asterisk into our way of packaging with the RPM format. We decided to take Asterisk and integrate open source fax technology such as the client/server HylaFAX system. We’ve also integrated Openfire, the Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) server that uses the only widely-adopted open protocol for instant messaging, XMPP, also called Jabber. We also work with the open source STMP email daemon, Postfix. So our system incorporates open source email, IM, voice and faxing, all integrated into a single platform. Asterisk’s SIP and IAX protocol support means that Elastix works with phones and equipment from Aastra, Atcom, Cisco, Linksys (News - Alert), Polycom, Snom, and so forth.

Unlike our competitors we emphasize two things. One is stability, the other is ease of use. We always keep these two goals in mind. Sometimes we distribute releases that are just bug fixes for software packages we use; other releases continue to enhance ease-of-use. It should be easy for customers to bring our system up-to-speed and we want all of the plug-in telephony cards in your computer to work, so everything will be okay when you pop in our software CD and install a system. Part of ease-of-use is overcoming language barriers, and we’ve translated our software into about 22 languages now. Compared to our competitors, we’re probably the most ‘international’ of them all. Aside from the U.S. and Latin America, we also reach out to many other geographical regions. People download Elastix from remote areas in India, China and Indonesia, as well as Australia, the U.K., the U.S., and so forth. We aim for a wide range of distribution, whereas some other competing distributions tend to focus on one geographical area.

RG: Did you ever consider making more money by going closed source?

JLLC:Elastix guarantees that its software will always be open source. People should be afraid of using our software because they’re concerned that we’ll suddenly become closed source and that everyone would then have to pay for licenses. That’s not where we’re going. Our avenues of funding are through the sales of ready-made appliance-like hardware on which we load the software for you. We also make some money via training, thus far in Spanish and our first English-based certification course will be held in July 2009 in the U.S. We also do a lot of customization for some clients. If you just want the software itself, you just download it, burn a CD, insert it into a computer CD drive, and then the CD will basically convert the computer into a PBX. You just log into the Webscreen and you can manage your system from there. In fact, you can do anything from setting up a single email account to granting permissions for doing call center work. By the way, we’re the only distribution out there currently that has a fully-working call center module that’s open source. Many are using it around the world, because it has such advanced features as predictive dialing – which happens to be our code.

We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We took pieces of available software and made them work together. When they don’t work, we insert our code so the whole system does what we want it to do. One clear example is what happened with ARI [Asterisk Recording Interface], an interface that was used in previous versions of Elastix for checking voicemail and recordings from the web page. But we decided it was a bit cumbersome, so we ended up replacing it with our own version, which is now integrated with Elastix. We can overcome the shortcomings of any open source package by adding our own code. In the case of the call center modules, there wasn’t anything available, so we wrote the code from scratch.

You won’t need plug-in cards from us if you’re just going to use SIP trunks; otherwise, we work closely with Sangoma and their cards – but we interact with many of the major card makers such as Digium (News - Alert). We also deal with Redfone Communications for their high availability technology. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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