Aspect Software has announced it is supporting the emerging open source Internet protocol for PBX (private branch exchange) — the Asterisk Business Edition — with a software package that includes the Asterisk Business Edition license; SIP (session initiation protocol) phones; application servers and IP gateways; interoperability with Aspect contact center products; installation and deployment services; and post-deployment support.
This package provides the same call handling capabilities of closed PBX systems, including such features as switched or packet data and voice mail, the company said.
The momentum behind Asterisk is clearly growing in the contact center space with 250,000 reported installations, Mike Sheridan, vice president strategy and marketing, told CRM Buyer. The figures he cited were provided by Mark Spencer, creator of Asterisk and president of Digium.
Open source PBX makes sense for contact centers interested in lower costs and other open source value propositions, Sheridan continued.
“Think of it as similar to the way Linux serves as an operating system for ERP (enterprise resource planning) or desktop applications,” he suggested.
Just as Linux has emerged as the de facto open source operating system, Asterisk appears to have reached the same status in telephony PBX, said Sheridan.
Noting that there are already 350 contributors to Asterisk, he said other open source PBX applications “typically don’t live long. It takes a lot to build a brand like Linux or SugarCRM (a popular open source CRM application). Asterisk has done that with PBX.”
At a trade show last year, Aspect demonstrated the interoperability between the Asterisk open source IP PBX and its Uniphi Suite, which is part of the company’s Unified product line. Aspect has since expanded the number of products in the Unified and Signature lines that can interoperate with Asterisk.
From Proprietary to Commodity
It is not surprising that the PBX has become a commodity service. In earlier years, this level of transport connectivity was provided through such proprietary services as T1 lines from carriers.
That functionality is increasingly being supplemented by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connectivity, thanks to the growing adoption of SIP and other standards-based technology. Open source is the next natural evolution, Aspect believes.
“In our view, the underlying PBX infrastructure is a commodity,” said Gary Barnett, chief technology officer and executive vice president of technical services at Aspect Software
“It is only when our solutions are integrated with that infrastructure that a company can see the real value in their contact center,” he said.
“Essentially, they (IP PBX systems) all provide the same call handling capabilities, and organizations are asking themselves why they should pay for a solution that they can get for little or no cost? It’s when packaged with unified, multichannel contact center solutions that companies can see the real value and benefits.”