Open Source VoIP Guide Part 5: Is it supported?

Adam Turner concludes his look at open source VoIP with an investigation of locally available support services.

PREVIOUSLY: Implementing Asterisk

Ongoing support is the biggest concern for any business looking to deploy open source software, but Asterisk's growth has seen the formalisation of support channels.

Asterisk users who run into trouble won't be left in the lurch, says Paul Liew, director of Digium distributor ATP. There are hundreds of organisations in ATP's Australian reseller channel, he says, and "more than a good handful" of dedicated Asterisk system integrators in each capital city.

"You're no longer left to your own devices. The formalisation of channels for attaining accreditation and support brings Asterisk into the commercial world even though it is still based on open source ideology," Liew says.

"You also still have the benefit of a community of more than five thousand people worldwide involved in the development and testing of Asterisk, something you wouldn't get with a proprietary vendor."

Liew compares the Asterisk model to Red Hat's approach to offering business-grade support for Linux.

"Larger enterprises are obviously very concerned about things like support. As with Red Hat, the model that Digium has adopted is that the Asterisk software is free but then there is an arm that you pay support to that can provide assistance and back up and all the other things that you need to make your deployment a successful one," he says.

Systems integrator Asterisk IT was founded specifically to target corporates and provide corporate level support, says managing director Brett Sutton.

"It's not just a case of handing someone an Asterisk disc and walking away. Our aim is to provide a service in which they ring us up and say "I need a phone system", we come and talk to them and at the end of the process they have got a fully working system that meets their requirements, as well as ongoing access to corporate level support," Sutton says.

"Asterisk has been a mature product since about version 1.2 10. It now up to 1.4 and it's rock solid, but we are also very conservative and we're still shipping 1.2. In the next two to three months we are going to migrate to 1.4 but we take a very conservative approach in terms of when we roll out new releases. We have a quality assurance lab where we run a whole lot of testing before we start shipping any new version. By Asterisk we able to offer a corporate level product, and we understand the corporate market place doesn't accept excuses."


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