Open Source VoIP Guide Part 3: Ready for business?

Is Asterisk ready for every business?

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While the strongest uptake of Asterisk is in the education sector, analyst firm Gartner says businesses should be open to using Asterisk.

The recent Gartner "Magic Quadrant" report on significant Corporate Telephony providers in Asia/Pacific includes Asterisk's developer Digium, but rates it as a "niche player".

"Asterisk has been targeted at organizations with a strong IT operation and a culture for developing and customising applications in-house. This is changing as Digium grows Asterisk's appeal to enterprises through enhancements such as setup wizards for administrators, monitoring tools that function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, operator graphical user interfaces and single-click software upgrades," according to the report.

"It is still early in the life cycle for the open-source Asterisk solution. Although it is not yet mature as a product for enterprise use and has a limited number of enterprise users, it is often used as a valuable integration tool between otherwise incompatible proprietary solutions."

A successful Asterisk rollout no longer requires an internal development team, says Geoff Johnson - the report's author and Gartner's Research Vice President for Enterprise Communications Applications.

"The market has improved in the last couple of years and if you're happy to engage your network integrator, running Asterisk is something that's realistic in a business today," Johnson says.

"In the last year or two it's come sufficiently of age. It's not a toy and it's not something you should dismiss out of hand, but you really need to evaluate it against the proprietary solutions. The place where it's most likely to be used is where you've got a complex environment big enough to justify a systems integrator. You've got to have a reliable system integrator that knows what it's doing. What you don't want is a project run by half a dozen people inside your organisation who are just playing with open source."

While businesses should be open to using Asterisk, Johnson warns against putting the cart before the horse.

"It's something that's worthwhile evaluating on a competitive basis, but the integrator will probably decided for you rather than you decide to use Asterisk," he says.

"Most organisations don't approach this by saying "gee, I really need to go out and get some open source telecoms software today". They're usually solving a problem that might require VoIP, so the approach should be to evaluate options rather than to go looking for open source software."

NEXT: Open source VoIP - how do I deploy it?


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