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Asterisk announces major updates

Digium, maker of open source PBX Asterisk, yesterday announced enhancements to its Business Edition at GlobalComm 2006.

Asterisk maker Digium Inc. yesterday announced a major upgrade of its Asterisk Business Edition at the GlobalComm...

2006 conference in Chicago.

The updates, billed as Asterisk B.1, add additional security and features to the widely popular open source PBX. According to Jim Webster, director of software technologies for Digium, the upgrades come through a series of partnerships with other vendors. Version B.1 includes advanced security and scalability using Ranch Network's Asterisk security code, speech recognition capabilities with LumenVox Speech Engine, text-to-speech applications through the Cepstral Text-to-Speech System, and customized Linux distribution for easier installation.

The latest Asterisk Business Edition also features built-in support for Intel Dialogic Products and Aculab Prosody X cards.

"This upgraded version … will make it even easier for businesses to opt for a telephony platform based on open source development and open standards over proprietary systems, especially in the migration to VoIP," Webster said.

Asterisk now has roughly 500,000 installations and about 350 contributors. The PBX has taken a strong hold of the open source community; Webster credits this to the system's interoperability with applications from various partners.

"You don't have to be locked into any particular vendor, any particular protocol or any particular standards," he said.

Asterisk supports various TDM protocols for handling and transmitting voice over traditional telephony interfaces. It also supports VoIP packet protocols such as SIP, IAX and H.323. Additionally, Asterisk can support both U.S. and European standard signaling types that are used in corporate phone systems, meaning that it can bridge between next-generation voice and data integrated networks and existing infrastructure.

Used with Digium's PCI telephony interface cards, Asterisk can transport voice and data over IP, TDM, switched and Ethernet architectures. Digium also offers hardware and software that enable telephony applications including legacy PBX, IVR, auto attendant, next-generation gateways, media servers and application servers.

For more information

Learn all you need in our Crash Course on Asterisk

Read more about the partnership of Asterisk and Ranch

Webster said Business Edition B.1, the first major Asterisk Business Edition upgrade since Business Edition was unveiled less than a year ago, is a certified version and gives users a telephony platform suitable for critical business applications. Third-party software can be integrated directly into Asterisk and deployed on an Asterisk server.

Alex Pavlovsky, president of Digium partner Ranch Networks, said the pairing of the two boosts Asterisk's security capabilities. Ranch Networks wrote code that makes firewalls more Asterisk-aware, meaning it dynamically opens and closes the firewall during sessions. Ranch also recently unveiled an appliance that can link two Asterisk servers and make them redundant in case one fails.

"Security is a critical component for all voice solutions, especially in a business environment," Pavlovsky said in a statement. "By integrating the Ranch Networks security code into the new version of the Asterisk Business Edition, Digium addresses many concerns with open source software."

Companies already using Asterisk Business Edition are eligible for a free upgrade to the new version under their existing plans, Webster said.

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