Asterisk is ‘Cloud Ready’

Posted by: on Mar 15, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

We talk  a lot about ‘the Cloud’ to our customers and what that means to their business. Much like the term VoIP, ‘The Cloud’ can mean different things to different people. Moving your business’ server to a collocation facility is as much a form of cloud computing as using multiple servers to test an app in Amazon’s cloud is. So the question really becomes what you need from ‘the Cloud’.

When it comes to your voice services, the options for cloud hosting are just starting to show themselves, but one fact remains true: if a business buys a traditional IP PBX they are committed not only to the software of that system, but to the hardware too. That may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning when you consider a migration path for your voice services to the cloud. Unlike any closed source PBX, Asterisk is software that’s not tethered to branded hardware. There’s a reason why Asterisk has had over 5 million downloads worldwide: not only is it free, but it will run on just about any computer! Obviously, when running Asterisk in a production environment you want a performance server supporting Asterisk, but I hope the point is not lost.

Okay, back to the title of this blog post. Let’s say you want leverage a Cloud option that puts all of your business’ apps onto a server that you pay a monthly fee for instead of buying new servers and paying to rack them at a collocation facility for a lot more money. In this scenario you’ve moved your Windows apps, your CRM database, and any other application software you’ve got to the Cloud with one exception: you phone system. Because you’ve got a proprietary PBX like Avaya or Shoretel, you’re not able to migrate the application software from the proprietary hardware you were sold to the server available to you in the Cloud. Not so with Asterisk. Remember, Asterisk is open standards software that can run on any decent server. Using Asterisk, you can simply load your system configuration (user extensions, voice mails, auto attendant greetings, etc.) onto a server in the Cloud. Companies like Fountainhead support Asterisk remotely and it doesn’t matter to us where your server is as long as we’ve got access to it. Now, your investment is protected and your move to the Cloud is complete.

A final note about moving voice services to the Cloud. If you originate and terminate all of your phone calls in the cloud remember that every call that’s made, even when calling from one extension to another in your office has to go out over your connection to the Cloud and back. This introduces several challenges like the amount of bandwidth needed, potential latency (delay), and security that can’t be overlooked. While Asterisk is ready for the Cloud, it’s critical to know whether your Cloud is ready for Asterisk.