Asterisk is open-source software IPBX. It operates on Linux operating system (known to work well with - Debian, Red-Hat, Fedora, Gentoo, SuSE, Mandrake and other
distributions). Asterisk represents a revolutionary approach to the world of telephony; it brings the word of open-source to a field which was 100% proprietary. The two major advantages in this approach are: 1)
Significantly lower costs (software is free). 2)
Rapid development: today thousands of people all over the globe work with asterisk, many of them contribute to the code. Asterisk literally grows from day to day.
As a result, using Asterisk makes it possible to build high end telephony systems in a fraction of what they cost in the traditional way.
Asterisk is fully capable of working with IP telephony as well as POTS (plain old telephony service) and analog telephones.
In my opinion, this new approach to the world of telephony will change the enormous IPBX market dramatically in the near future. It will enable smaller companies to come in that market and offer solutions competitive to those of huge corporations with an Asterisk based platforms, and will present a problem to those who carry huge R&D expenses of proprietary code in that field. Asterisk Features
Asterisk is feature rich and grows rapidly. Apart from basic capabilities such as call routing (including DID - direct inbound dialing), call forward, music on hold ect., it can also perform as a conference bridge, send voice mail to email, perform as IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and much more. For more information about Asterisk features see http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-Asterisk+PBX+functions
Asterisk is used today world wide by many different types of users, from private and small business implementations to large call centers and service providers. Since it is open source, it can be implemented as a PBX or IPPBX (see below) or be used for a special purpose, such as voice mail or conference bridging. How did it all begin?
Asterisk was written by Mark Spencer who founded Digium which is the main sponsor of Asterisk. He started writing it to save the high costs of telephony for his own business. After he saw the great potential in it, he made it the main business of his company. As for today, Mark and his "bug marshals
" still head the ship. Asterisk as a traditional PBX
Asterisk can perform as a PBX for traditional analog telephony. This means you can upgrade an old telephony without the high cost of changing all of your telephone sets to IP phones. You can enjoy all the features without making unnecessary investments in equipment. It also allows you to gradually start using IP service providers and IP telephone sets with the old equipment.
In order to use Asterisk as a PBX for traditional telephony, it is necessary to use certain hardware with telephony interfaces, such as channel banks, PCI cards or small gateways. Asterisk as IPPBX
Asterisk is fully capable of functioning as an IPPBX. All that is required for such usage is an Asterisk unit (PC), LAN (local area network) and IP telephone sets or IP gateways for connecting analog phones.
Asterisk can work with a few IP telephony protocol such as SIP, MGCP, H323, SCCP (Cisco proprietary protocol), however, at this point of time it is known to have some problems with certain protocols, and it is recommended to work with SIP. Asterisk also works with IAX2 (Inter Asterisk eXchange) protocol, an open source protocol that was written for Asterisk and handles NAT and firewalls better than SIP and other protocols.
Since it works with analog and digital telephony protocols and with several IP protocols, Asterisk can also be used as a gateway between different protocols.
"What other Linux applications have their very own conference?" Mark Spencer, Astricon 2004.
Astricon is a conference dedicated to asterisk. The first Astricon took place in Atlanta, on September 2004. About 450 people from 5 continents came to hear about the last developments in Asterisk and where it is going in the future. The fathers of Astricon only expected about 150. For a summery of Astricon 2004 see http://www.xorcom.com/astricon.html
In 2005 there will be two Astricon conferences, one in Europe in May, and one in Atlanta, GA, USA in October. For more information see http://www.astricon.net/ The Future of Asterisk
Asterisk grows at an extraordinary rate. VoIP guru Jeff Pulver states: "They are developing a sophisticated PBX on a PC with the (capability
) of a $100,000 PBX...It will be a world class PBX that runs on Linux. You can have a PBX for the cost of a PC." For complete article see http://www.techweb.com/wire/networking/55801111
Jon 'Maddog' Hall, president of Linux International, states: "I predict that over next three years, VoIP using an open-source solution, such as Asterisk; will generate more business than the entire Linux marketplace today". By: