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Asterisk is Popping Up Everywhere

I am continually amazed by the ubiquity of Asterisk.  Asterisk based carrier class systems are popping up like mushrooms.  Why? The expense of deploying one of these systems is truly disruptive.  Built on commodity hardware, they can be deployed for amounts less than $0.50 per subscriber, and scaled for even less.  Compared to traditional TDM based systems, they are ten times less expensive to build.

For example, over the last couple of months, I’ve seen numerous companies building carrier grade platforms around Asterisk, each with a different strategy for scaling.  For instance, Teresto, has approached the problem from the point of view of compartmentalizing every feature of their system. Need ringtones?  That’s on one Asterisk server.  An IVR?  That’s on another.  They’re demonstrating the flexibility of Asterisk, while isolating individual functions in a highly fault tolerant architecture. 

David Troy’s PopVox proposes an open source telephony platform, which he calls AMFORA, based on Asterisk.  AMFORA is: Asterisk, MySQL, FreeRadius, OpenSER, Ruby on Rails, and Apache.  At this point, he’s on his fourth generation of best practices deploying this platform, with successful installs in Brazil, the US, and Europe, including an install at Cogent. 

Because Asterisk based systems can be built and scaled so easily, new services can be crafted and test marketed with minimal expense. If it takes off, then scale it.  If not, then you know you built the wrong thing.

The giveaway that a system is using Asterisk? Allison Smith.  If Allison is the voice of a new service, then chances are it’s built on Asterisk.  For instance, the much-promoted Jajah is built from a foundation of one Asterisk feature, the outgoing call spooler. Radio Handi‘s voice conferencing service?  Built around Asterisk.  PhoneGnome?  Asterisk in the back end — you can hear it in PhoneGnome’s voice mail system. 

Asterisk has given these developers a huge advantage by providing cheap, workable call control, in source code.  It allows them to focus on building innovative customer services, while the open source community takes care of the nuts and bolts of the platform.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Alec July 20, 2006, 6:08 am

    Ow… ooh!… Please stop! That's the sound of me being skewered by pedantry :)

    You are correct — 1/10th as expensive to build. Best, A

  • Michael Berlant July 20, 2006, 7:36 am

    Interesting article, but how do I get you to send me the money you purport to be saving me?

    “Compared to traditional TDM based systems, they are ten times less expensive to build.”

    Let’s see – If I can buy a TDM for $150,000 and Asterisk is ten times less expensive…

    $150,000 – cost of TDM
    (ten times $150,000) – “ten times less expensive”

    You owe me $1,350,000 for every Asterisk system I build.

    I like this deal. Where can I collect?

    Or, did you really mean to say that Asterisk is one tenth the cost to build?

  • raman July 28, 2006, 3:00 am

    Asterisk can be a good voip server provided:-

    it has fault tolerance mechanism
    it can handle real time load

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