When Asterisk sponsor Digium, Inc. released AsteriskNOW, early in January 2007, the stated aim was to provide an open-source telephony “appliance.” Not appliance as in hardware/software combo, but appliance as in ‘all the software you need to get a complete telephony application up and running’—even if you don’t know a lot about Linux administration.
AsteriskNOW contained all necessary Linux components “built in” (and nothing that was not needed) and came with AsteriskGUI, a simple graphical admin module.
The lean, mean offering has been very successful by any standard.
Last week, Digium announced the beta release its first major upgrade, AsteriskNOW 1.5, available for immediate free download.
There are two principal changes to the original AsteriskNOW 1.4 release: the replacement of the rPath Linux implementation with the highly popular and very stable CentOS distribution, and the integration of the powerful FreePBX admin/user interface—used in the popular trixbox and PBX in a Flash applications—as an alternative to AsteriskGUI.
The modular, customizable Web-based FreePBX UI, in particular, would seem to be moving AsteriskNOW in a new direction—away from the pared-down, ‘only-what-you-need approach’ more toward an ‘add-components-and-build-complex-applications’ stance.
Or, to put it slightly differently, AsteriskNOW 1.4 moved Digium’s product line away from the telephony platform identity of Asterisk 1.2 and 1.4, toward a no-frills, easy-to-implement telephony application. The integration of the FreePBX UI would seem to be moving it back in the platform direction.
Indeed, in addition to simplifying the process like creating interactive voice response prompts and other messages, providing system statistics, aiding in setting up trunk lines, and the like, FreePBX excels in adding, removing, and configuring other software modules –SQL or CRM, for instance.
“Since its beginning, FreePBX has been instrumental in the adoption of Asterisk by a segment of the community who may not have otherwise taken the plunge,” stated Philippe Lindheimer, leader of the FreePBX project. “We are delighted to extend our relationship with Digium and become part of this new AsteriskNOW distribution.”
Echoing Lindheimer, Digium vice president of product management and strategy Bill Miller declared, “AsteriskNOW provides a distinct option for organizations that want the ability to create highly customized applications using Asterisk, along with the convenience of built-in Linux and other open source software. We’re committed to Asterisk as an open source platform for telephony development, and AsteriskNOW is a major part of that commitment.”