Dubbed AsteriskNOW, the appliance features Digium's own GUI and a setup wizard that guides users through the step-by-step installation process. According to Bill Miller, vice president of product management and marketing for Digium, the solution can be up and running in about 30 minutes.
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Miller said the AsteriskNOW distribution includes all the Linux components necessary to run, debug and build Asterisk, making the open-source telephony easier to install and maintain in an office setting or, in some cases, even at home. Users can navigate through the wizard, which includes the ability to use default dial plans and easy configurations.
"This will enable small businesses with no technical ability to install and try out Asterisk," he said. "It eliminates the complexity. It really takes the pain out of learning the open source model." Miller added that new users need no previous Linux experience.
AsteriskNOW will give SMB users a stab at VoIP, Miller said. And, by later this year, companies will be able to upgrade to Asterisk Business Edition from AsteriskNOW directly from the GUI.
"This will really get them to understand the power of Asterisk and VoIP," he said.
Mark Spencer, Digium president and Asterisk creator, said the initial beta version of AsteriskNOW was downloaded more than 2,000 times per day without promotion last month.
"Unlike other Linux distributions used to deploy Asterisk, AsteriskNOW does not have unnecessary components that could compromise security or performance," Spencer said.
AsteriskNOW is based on the recently released Asterisk 1.4. The AsteriskNOW.org Web site includes a forum for community support and feedback and a developer blog.