Integration with Lync using Asterisk

Posted by: on Jan 31, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

Most people who are familiar with Asterisk outside the Asterisk community think of Asterisk first and foremost as a PBX that is a fully functional feature rich phone system. Without a doubt it is that, but Asterisk is also used very commonly as a gateway to bridge different types of technology that would not otherwise be compatible or sometimes it’s used as a way for a business to migrate from a traditional PBX to an IP PBX without the pain and suffering of a forklift upgrade. An example of the latter that we’ve seen is using Asterisk as a voicemail server for an Avaya Legend whose voicemail has died. The customer doesn’t want to replace the Legend voicemail with another Legend voicemail but would rather invest money in newer technology.

One of the most significant examples of Asterisk being used as a gateway between two different and incompatible technologies has to with Microsoft Lync (http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/default.aspx). There is a fantastic resource worth checking out called Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit by Dr. Rez (http://blogs.technet.com/b/drrez/). Among other topics discussion, using Asterisk as an interoperability gateway to accommodate integration between Lync and either 3rd party PBX’s not currently certified with Lync or with 3rd party apps like Skype (www.skype.com) and Google Talk (www.google.com/talk/). For those of you who are interested in Lync, you’ll appreciate this resource.

Enjoy!

Leaving Hosted VoIP

Posted by: on Jan 4, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

If  you’ve got hosted VoIP service and your provider isn’t delivering the call quality you need, installing Asterisk makes it easy and to migrate to a more reliable solution for your voice services.

We’ve talked to a lot of businesses who chose to go with a hosted VoIP provider for their business telecommunications and really regretted it. Here’s how hosted VoIP works with most providers: a business will purchase telephones for their employees, install broadband Internet service, and connect the phones to the hosted VoIP service provider’s network. For a monthly fee per user, the hosted provider gives you PBX (phone system) services like voicemail and the ability to configure user extensions. The gain for the customer is that they don’t have to purchase PBX hardware outright. Indeed, for some businesses this is a really attractive solution because takes a chunk of the capital expense out of providing PBX services for their business. Because their service is carried over the public Internet there is no Quality of Service (QoS) end to end. The problem that oftentimes results is very poor or spotty call quality which in turn reflects badly on the business (i.e. the business looks too cheap to afford a decent phone system).  There a number of other reasons that can contribute to poor service from a hosted provider that are worth checking out (for more on the pitfalls of hosted VoIP, check out http://voip.about.com/od/voipbasics/a/voipproblems.htm). Unfortunately, the business is stuck in the event they choose to leave the hosted provider. They’ve purchased telephones that won’t work with a proprietary phone system. Only Avaya phones will work with an Avaya phone system, only Cisco phones will work with a Cisco phone system, etc.  In almost all cases, this is not true with Asterisk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterisk_%28PBX%29

  • Hosted VoIP providers use SIP (www.SIP.org) telephones as does Asterisk. These phones do not require a license and require very little programming when moving them from a hosted provider to a premise based Asterisk system.
  • This upside for the customer is that their investment in the telephones is protected and the only additional equipment needed is an Asterisk server and any line cards that may be needed to interface with the customer’s telephone company.
  • It also means that the customer will need to order telephone service, but the monthly expense of the phone service may be the same or even less than what the hosted VoIP provider was charging so the monthly.

If you find yourself in a situation where your hosted provider may be costing you business instead growing your business, there is an alternative that can make the migration to a more reliable solution. For more on Asterisk, check out the official definition of Asterisk in Wikipedia, go to: