RealTime IT News

New Asterisk Set to Ring

Asterisk has been a disruptive force in the telco world since at least its 1.0 release.

And now with version 1.4, the first major release of the open source VoIP IP-PBX in almost a year, as well as a looming hardware appliance, Asterisk and its corporate sponsor Digium are hoping to disrupt the telco world ever further.

"There have been so many great developments in this version of Asterisk, it is impossible to cite just one," Kevin Fleming, senior software engineer at Digium and co-maintainer of Asterisk, told internetnews.com.

New features include Jabber, Jingle and GoogleTalk protocol compatibilities enabling Asterisk users to collaborate with peers on those Jabber/XMPP-based instant messaging networks.

IPFAX capabilities are also part of Asterisk 1.4 as is Unified Messaging that provided for integration of all faxes, e-mails and voicemails into a single mailbox that can be retrieved using any Internet-capable communications device.

A new feature called Whisper Paging enables what Digium describes as "selective, pre-programmed call interruption with controlled volume levels and muting capabilities."

Performance has also been improved in the new release with memory, SIP call transfer interoperability and enhanced media stream capabilities.

Digium is also announcing a new Asterisk Appliance and an Asterisk Appliance Developer Kit to help bridge the gap between software and hardware.

Digium's Asterisk Appliance is a bona fide hardware appliance and not a virtual offering.

Bill Miller, vice president of product management and marketing for Digium, explained to internetnews.com that the Asterisk appliance will be sold as a standalone when it becomes available next year.

In the meantime, users are required to purchase the Asterisk Appliance Developer Kit to obtain early access to the appliance.

As opposed to the Asterisk Business Edition, which is built as a software appliance using rPath Linux, the Asterisk Hardware Appliance will use uCLinux.

"The processor on the device is an analogue Blackfin processor, and that works in an embedded environment," Miller explained. "Asterisk is embedded into that environment, and the version of Linux that runs in that environment today is uCLinux."

"One of the advantages to uCLinux is that is has very little memory requirement."

The appliance will also boast something that open source Asterisk has never had, namely a graphical user interface (GUI).

There have been third-party GUIs for Asterisk but never one from the project itself or from Digium.

"As the creator of Asterisk, Digium has a unique understanding of Asterisk," Miller said.

"As a result, it only made sense for us to develop a GUI that makes it even easier for developers to create Asterisk-based solutions."