Asterisk is a leading, freely available voice over IP (VoIP) solution that companies can employ as an Open Source software without license fees. Originally designed by Mark Spencer at the U.S. company Digium in 1999, the solution is now being continually further developed by a growing development community around the world. In addition, it offers high functionality and boasts an extensive basis for telephony, unified messaging, and third-party systems. This includes voice services, answering machine functions, conference calling, interactive voice response (IVR) via dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMF), speech recognition via third-party applications, directory services (Directory), and simultaneous encryption. As a result, the universal communication solution is not only suitable for phone calls, but can also be used as a unified communications (UC) solution for all communications media. Asterisk is particularly attractive to medium-sized and large companies. The solution is also scalable, making it possible to realize projects with 50 or 50,000 members of staff.
If Asterisk is used exclusively as a VoIP solution, the user does not require any additional hardware apart from the server system. The software-based telephone system is connected to the telephone network via an SIP provider (or via ISDN connections until 2018). There are three versions of Asterisk available:
- Asterisk Communications Framework (Long-Term Support)
- Asterisknow Software PBX (Standard Support)
- Certified Asterisk Version (Long-Term Support)
Asterisk Communications Framework is the most up-to-date version and can be used without license fees. However, it also contains new functions, which are yet to be sufficiently tested. Asterisknow is easy to install and offers a rudimentary web interface, but this does not cover all of the Asterisk functions and lags behind the first version. The certified version, which is also available without license fees, is based on the framework, allows direct support from Digium, and places the greatest importance to stability. As such, it is ideal for companies.
The use of a user-friendly administration interface such as Asterisk4UCS from DECOIT® is recommended for simpler operation. This allows users to manage their telephone system infrastructure particularly easily via UCS. Asterisk4UCS allows the LDAP-based integration of all VoIP components, including user assignments and individual VoIP features, and is available as an app for the Univention Corporate Server (UCS). The app supports Univention Corporate Server as of Version 2.4.
Asterisk4UCS highlights at a glance
- Simple installation via UCS packages: Provision of virtual machine images for VirtualBox, VMware Player, VMware ESXi, and KVM.
- Convenient autoconfiguration function: Automatic generation of a ready-to-use Asterisk configuration from the UCS settings, which can then be imported and made available to the administrator.
- Configuration flexibility: In addition to autoconfiguration, there is also the option of integrating special Asterisk configuration requirements.
- Single point of administration for Asterisk telephone performance characteristics: Standardized simple administration of all IP telephone and additional peripherals such as faxes in the company network via a web-based interface.
- Integration in Univention Corporate Server (UCS): The Asterisk4UCS interface is integrated in the directory service server and thus dovetails seamlessly into the UCS-GUI from Univention.
- Linking of a telephone to a UCS user’s LDAP information and access to central telephone book: All of the telephones in a company network are assigned to the members of staff.
- Simple and independent performance of UCS and Asterisk update: The Asterisk4UCS solution can be employed independently of the Asterisk version. This makes it possible, for example, always to use the latest version.
- Call center function: Thanks to the option of setting up queues, Asterisk4UCS is also suitable for use with Asterisk and UCS in call centers.
DECOIT® offers assistance with installation, a service agreement, and expansions in terms of functions or settings for Asterisk4UCS if required. Consultancy services, planning services, and the setting up of a complete IT telephone system are also possible. DECOIT® has been using Asterisk internally since 2004 and has also implemented it in a wide range of customer projects since then. The spectrum here ranges from the smallest category of solutions with 10 participants up to large, distributed solutions counting more than 5,000 individuals.
By the end of 2017, KITOMA, the complete IP telephone system from DECOIT®, will also be available in the UCS App Center. This offers control of the entire Asterisk system and thus goes beyond the scope of services of Asterisk4UCS as an infrastructure management tool. The functions reproduced in KITOMA were developed on the basis of customer requirements and have thus already proven their worth in practice. The web-based interface does not restrict the scope of functions of the underlying Asterisk system, with the result that further functions can be introduced with additional developments at any time.
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Merle El-Khatib successfully completed a BA in International Management, majoring in Marketing, and has been responsible for the marketing activities at DECOIT® GmbH since 2014. As a Bremen-based IT system integrator and software house, DECOIT® has been a Univention Premium Partner for many years now.