Asterisk Ready for the Big Time

By Sean Michael Kerner | May 13, 2008 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/Asterisk-Ready-for-the-Big-Time-3746521.htm

Digium, the prime corporate mover behind Asterisk, is poised to push the popular, open-source PBX into the carrier space, thanks to a new partnership with UK-based carrier switch vendor Integrics.

The deal may mark a coup for Digium, Asterisk's commercial sponsors, which could see Integrics deploying its Enswitch product using Asterisk and jointly targeting carrier-class deployments.

As a result, the new move could be the first step in a larger effort by Digium to tackle the market for carrier PBX and unified communications equipment, currently dominated by proprietary vendors.

"Digium has many carrier-class partners from different types of partnerships," Bill Miller, the company's vice president of product management and marketing, told InternetNews.com. "Some are customers of Digium hardware and software, some are VoIP service providers with revenue share arrangements, some resell our appliances, but this is the first Asterisk-based partner of this type."

Miller said Digium had been looking for a partner for the service provider edition of its IP-PBX system. Integrics met with Digium in Europe last year, and began evaluating Asterisk with Enswitch.

"The successful testing and acceptance of Enswitch drove Digium to work with Integrics because the product had all the capability we were looking for but they lacked the marketing and sales engine of Digium," Miller said. "The result is a combination of Digium's strong marketing and sales prowess and Integrics' strong technical knowledge Asterisk-based network solutions for service providers."

Miller added that Digium won't need to make any enhancements to Asterisk to support the Integrics product.

On the other hand, over time there may be specific requirements from carriers to adapt the platform to their needs—as in any proprietary solution, he said. But Miller also said the transparent nature of open-source Asterisk allows those enhancements to be implemented and tested more rapidly and easily.

The announcement also may mean big things ahead for Digium's new partner, which, while a carrier-grade vendor, is still a relatively small company. Integrics spokesman Alistair Cunningham told InternetNews.com that the company currently has about 40 installations among approximately 25 customers.

The smallest deployments represent a few hundred hosted PBX users on single servers. The largest ones serve more than 100,000 residential users, and well into thousands of concurrent calls.

"It's early days for us, and while we currently have a small, loyal customer base, there's low recognition of the Enswitch product among carriers," Cunningham said. "We plan to improve this by partnering with companies like Digium who are recognized as innovators and who have high visibility in the marketplace."

Adapted from an article originally published on internetnews.com.