Dr. Devasia Kurian, Founder and CEO, *astTECS

The voice solutions market is undergoing radical transformation due to the advent and advancement of technologies such as Internet Protocol and Open Source Software. In a latest development, India ‘s Telecom Commission has approved allowing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services under the National Telecom Policy (NTP), 2012. This move is aimed at making telecom services more affordable to consumers.

Traditional PBX systems have dominated the enterprise market, while Key systems have been the primary solution for small and medium sized businesses. The IP-based alternatives are now gaining acceptance, and open source-based telephony solutions are opening up new markets for the functionality that previously required an expensive PBX system.

While these conditions have given rise to telephony systems that work very well for their intended purpose, businesses have paid a high price. Apart from being costly, these systems were proprietary and closed. Each vendor had their own technology and

competing systems and these were not compatible with each other. Taking advantage, vendors retained full control, leaving customers totally dependent on them for fixes, enhancements and upgrades. To sum it all, costs were high, support was expensive and less available, and features sets were few & fixed.

The arrival of IP (Internet Protocol) has changed the business telephony market on many levels. One of the main reasons that large enterprises & SMEs are drawn to IP Telephony is the operational efficiency gained from combining the voice and data functions in an organization. All businesses – both large and small – recognize the cost effectiveness & benefits of IP telephony. As things progressed, the cost of hardware reduced and machines started offering thus becoming more powerful.

The enterprise PBX market is substantial, especially in terms of the revenue opportunity for PBX vendors. IP-based alternatives exist for this market and both vendors and carriers are developing strong channels to penetrate the market, educate and support these businesses with IP. These conditions set the stage for open source telephony.

Over the past couple of years, open source software has gained considerable acceptance throughout the enterprise environment. The inherent appeal of open source is lower cost, and with the advent of PC-based PBX solutions, the addressable market opportunity is substantial. There are millions of small businesses that may not be able to afford a PBX but would certainly desire its feature set.

Key features that make Asterisk based Open Source Telephony attractive to businesses .

  • Low Cost
  • Flexibility
  • Open System
  • Scalability

 The open-source Asterisk PBX has been gaining a big ground, offering surprisingly powerful telephony features on inexpensive hardware. Not only has it been saving companies money, but it has also been able to integrate telephony with network applications in ways that previously might not have been possible.

Asterisk platform supports a wide range of protocols for the handling and transmission of voice over traditional telephony interfaces including H.323, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and so on. It can run on inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware, since it includes high-end features such as interactive voice response, voice mail, conference calling, and automatic call distribution and routing that have until now only been available on proprietary PBXs.

Moving forward the most direct benefit of an Asterisk based PBX is that we can easily by pass a proprietary equipment lock-in by utilizing a proven Asterisk based contact centre technology platform. Another important benefit is the scalability, Asterisk offers both classical PBX functionality and advanced features, and interoperates with traditional standards-based telephony systems and Voice over IP systems. Asterisk offers the advanced features that are often associated with large, high end (and high cost) proprietary PBXs. Since all next generation contact centre features are available for the Asterisk platform there is real value in switching to Asterisk.

Asterisk IP PBX benefits

The benefits of the Asterisk IP PBX come from the very fact that it is an open source product. With traditional PBX vendors, their proprietary nature of solution means, that we would have less choice while upgrading the systems or scale up the same. The architecture of Asterisk based solution is such that it can work with generic computer hardware and the buyer can select his hardware from a supplier of is choice, based on factors like configuration required and cost. This offers a clear advantage and more flexibility.

On the software front, as per the open source philosophy, the software should freely integrate with other applications and allow other applications to integrate. Asterisk is easy to integrate with third party application.

Another important benefit of using Asterisk based telephony solution is its flexibility to scale up. The expensive existing hardware can be extended instead of complete replacement and we no longer have to discard the old PBX hardware simply to get new features.

With a host of benefits and its open architecture, continued & increasing innovations, Asterisk has well positioned itself and offers solutions that are intelligent and optimized for today’s requirements.