Open Source Asterisk 12 Opens Up Communications with REST

By Sean Michael Kerner | Oct 9, 2013 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/open-source-asterisk-12-opens-up-communications-with-rest.html

The open source Asterisk project is out today, its 12.0 release providing users with new extensibility.

A widely deploy VoIP PBX and UC platform, Asterisk has been actively growing its base and features since its 1.0 release back in 2004. The project has grown and evolved significantly over the last decade and now has both standard and Long Term Support (LTS) releases.

In November of 2012, Asterisk 11 debuted as an LTS, carrying four years of support. The new Asterisk 12asterisk release out today is, in contrast, what the project refers to as a standard support release.

"That means bug fixes for 1 year. After that one year, it will receive security patches only for an additional 1 year," Matt Jordan, project lead of Digium's Asterisk development team, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

Digium is the lead commercial sponsor behind the open source Asterisk project.

"Asterisk 12 should be viewed as the first major step forward in a new architecture for Asterisk," Jordan said. "Because it is not an LTS release, it shouldn't be viewed in the same light as Asterisk 11 - rather, I would view Asterisk 12 as a release of Asterisk that enables the engineering of a company's next generation communications platform."

REST

While Asterisk as a platform has been extensible since its 1.0 release back in 2004, the 12.0 release makes that extensibility "RESTful." REST (Representational State Transfer) is now a commonly used architectural approach for opening up system calls and APIs, among other uses.

Asterisk 12 introduces the Asterisk REST Interface (ARI), which offers the promise of easier access for developers to extend the open source communications platform.


"Previously, if you wanted to make modifications to an Asterisk application, or you wanted to write your own Asterisk application, you had to either be a C developer or you had to use a combination of AMI and AGI to emulate an Asterisk dialplan application," Jordan said. "ARI enables developers to write their own communications application for Asterisk."

Additionally, Asterisk 12 includes numerous architectural improvements to the platform. Among the is a brand new Bridging Framework, used by all bridging operations within Asterisk. There is also a new internal message bus, as well as consistent call detail records and channel event logging, built on the new bridging framework and message bus.

With Asterisk 11, support for the emerging WebRTC (RealTime Communications) protocol was a key focus. Jordan noted that WebRTC is not a focus of new development in Asterisk 12, though it is supported.  

"The focus in this release was major architectural changes that dovetail with WebRTC," Jordan said. "WebRTC is all about enabling real time communications in the web - Asterisk 12 is all about making communications applications possible for web developers. The two are complementary, but not really the same thing."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist