Aheeva Sweetens Asterisk Call Center with Sugar

IP Contact Center Suite gets a CRM boost.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 23, 2006
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The open-source Asterisk IP PBX has spawned a broad ecosystem of partners and solutions. One denizen of the ecosystem, Montreal-based call center vendor Aheeva Technologies, has just recently updated its software and added support for SugarCRM.

Aheeva Contact Center Suite (CCS) Version 2.0 is an IP based solution that utilizes Asterisk as its underlying IP PBX. François Lambert, COO of Aheeva explained to VoIPplanet.com that, overall, Aheeva CCS has been in development for the past three years with version 2.0 being developed over the course of the last nine months.

Among its numerous features, CCS includes skills-based routing for inbound calls, as well as digital voice recording and a full outbound functionality. A softphone and full reporting and statistics are also part of the solution. The platform is administered via a web based management interface.

The new version also provides the ability for a supervisor or other quality control personnel to listen to an agent live directly via the web based management interface from anywhere in the world.

More notably, version 2.0 adds support for SugarCRM, which is a leading open-source CRM application. Lambert noted that Aheeva has been using SugarCRM internally and that customers have been asking for CRM functionality.

"Someone that will look for Asterisk first will likely also be looking for open-source CRM software as well," Lambert said.

Though Aheeva CCS ties into open-source applications, it isn't entirely open-source itself. Lambert explained that Aheeva has a couple of modules that are open-source because they need to be linked with Asterisk. One of them is the answering machine, which is open-source because it has to be in order to distribute it.

"The full suite doesn't run on Asterisk; it communicates with a proxy to Asterisk and it can be run on a different server," Lambert said. Aheeva actually supports a distributed architecture and can span multiple Asterisk servers. Aheeva's biggest installation currently has 6 asterisk servers at 2 different sites serving 350 users.

According to Lambert, Aheeva started to work with Asterisk when it was only at version 0.3 and has fixed numerous bugs working in conjunction with Digium and the Asterisk community over the last three years. Lambert argued that Aheeva CCS has the same level of features as large completely proprietary call center vendors such as Genesys, but with a lower price tag.

The cost of a Genesys system according to Lambert, including full inbound/outbound, with reporting and skills-based routing carries a price per seat of about $5,000—and that's not including the PBX.

In comparison, Aheeva CCS, which includes the Asterisk IP PBX as well as full digital recording capability, will cost an average of $600–700 US per seat for a competitively configured solution.

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