Digium likes to refer its Asterisk free open source telephony platform as a toolkit more than a finished product. In fact, the company likens its product to a kit car: It provides the pieces, and users can take those pieces to build whatever they want. With the release of version Asterisk 1.8, Digium unloads plenty of new tools and parts to build a business phone system.
Outside of the Linux OS itself, Asterisk boasts one of the largest open source communities, and for version 1.8, it adopted the Agile scrum development methodology to harness community demand. Users tell the company what new features and updates the product needs, some will go ahead and develop those updates themselves, and the Agile method means users can see what enhancements will be added when.
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For version 1.8, Digium has added beefed-up security via RTP (real-time transport protocol), enhanced call tracking and logging, Google Talk and Google Voice support, de-noising for conference calls, and better support for voice codecs. The new release also features calendar integration, meaning it can sync with your calendar (Microsoft Exchange, CalDav, or iCalendar) to route calls appropriately; for example, if your calendar says you're in a meeting when a call comes in, that call will be sent straight to voice mail. In addition, XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) distributed messaging allows for better scalability for message waiting and device state.
This release has been deemed a long-term support product, meaning users will get four years of dedicated resources from Digium for bug fixes and maintenance. Lengthier support contracts can be purchased as well.
Be forewarned if you're looking for a lightweight telephony solution: Digium says its target market is those who are developing applications or building a communications product on their own. It's a fairly advanced product, so it's better suited for a tech-oriented crowd.
Asterisk 1.8 is released under GPLv2 (GNU General Public License) and is available for download at the Asterisk website.
This story, "Digium Asterisk telephony platform gets a major upgrade ," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Killer Apps and follow the latest developments in applications at InfoWorld.com.