Asterisk versus Switchvox

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Users and customers frequently ask why Digium offers both the free-and-open Asterisk engine and the commercial Switchvox solution.

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Asterisk versus Switchvox

  1. 1. Users and customers frequently asked why Digium offers both the free-and-open Asterisk engine and the commercial Switchvox solution. Asterisk ® Digium is the creator and primary sponsor of the Asterisk project. Asterisk is an open source communications engine that transforms commodity computers into powerful versus ® communications servers. Asterisk is free. Digium also makes and sells Switchvox, a turnkey unifiedSwitchvox ® communications system (IP PBX) based on Asterisk. Switchvox is far less expensive than competitive IP PBX and UC systems based on proprietary technologies, but it is not free. Users and customers frequently asked why Digium offers both the free-and-open Asterisk engine and the commercial Switchvox solution. The answer is simple: while both products fit into the larger universe of telecommunications technologies, they have very different purposes and are geared towards very different audiences.
  2. 2. Asterisk handles low-level details of Where Asterisk is an engine, Switchvox With raw Asterisk, the process of config-initiating, maintaining and manipulating web applications, a telephony server does nothing without telephony applications. Web is a complete vehicle. The Switchvox uring phones is entirely manual. Each phonecalls between phones. applications can be as simple as single static development team has spent the past must be independently set up by the system HTML page or as complex as Facebook or six years creating a powerful unified administrator. Switchvox automatically det- Switchvox is a powerful Google. Likewise telephony applications can communications system that anyone with ects and configures phones, making it easy Asterisk is built by and for communication be very simple scripts or hugely complex unified communications system a minimum of computer experience can to deploy and manage users. Switchvox systems developers. The open source project began in 1999 when Mark Spencer suites of application software. that anyone with a minimum of manage. Where Asterisk is built for telecom also detects and configures Digium interface released the original Asterisk source code Low-level engines like Asterisk and computer experience developers, Switchvox is built for small and cards, making it easy to connect to the and began accepting submissions from a Apache are extremely powerful precisely can manage. mid-sized businesses that need a powerful, PSTN. Setting up SIP trunks and tie-lines to growing community of users. The resulting because they have no fixed function or cost effective phone system. other VoIP systems is even easier. product is an engine that handles all of the Asterisk is an engine. Switchvox is a complete vehicle. low-level details of initiating, maintaining and manipulating real-time media streams (calls) between endpoints (phones). Since the initial release it’s been tested and refined by a community of more than specific purpose set by their creators. build on top of them. These developers The Case For Switchvox So who should really pick Switchvox 65,000 developers and integrators in 170 The functions to which they are ultimately craft purpose-built solutions that implement Digium’s line of Switchvox IP PBX instead of Asterisk? People who aren’t countries around the world. applied are determined not by the creators a specific set of functions. Asterisk systems make unified communications telecom gurus who need a powerful, easy to (the developers of the Asterisk and Apache application developers write programs that capabilities available to small and medium install, easy to maintain, reasonably priced Asterisk is to telephony what the Apache development teams) but by application make Asterisk behave as a PBX or as VoIP businesses. Switchvox is administered phone system for up to 400 users. server is to web applications: essentially developers. gateway or as a dialer or virtually any other through an easy to use graphical user the exquisitely complex plumbing on Don’t get us wrong: it’s entirely possible type of telecom apparatus. interface (GUI) rather than raw configuration which other applications are built. Just Application developers take engine-level to create a powerful PBX system using raw as a web server does very little without components like Asterisk and Apache and Some Asterisk applications are simple and files and custom scripts. Switchvox Asterisk. The major drawbacks to running use little more than the core Asterisk engine, includes all of the standard features of Asterisk as a PBX are the deployment a few configuration files and some scripts phone system plus unified communication time and maintainability. Building an IP written in Asterisk’s Dialplan language. More capabilities like advanced voice messaging, Looking for an all-in-one solution instant messaging, desktop fax, drag/drop advanced Asterisk applications connect for your next business phone system? call control, multi-party conferencing and Asterisk with databases, web services Digium’s Switchvox system is more than a SMBs that want to do more than just talk can advanced IVR. Features that would cost and other external resources. Finally, there phone system — it’s the Unified Communications count on Switchvox to help them easily transition Where Asterisk is built are application suites that interconnect thousands to bolt onto a traditional system that integrates all office communications, from simple telephony to a feature-rich Unified for telecom developers, Asterisk with many other applications in a phone system. including phone, fax, chat and web mashups. Communications solution to improve productivity complex web of interactions. These complex Switchvox is built for small in their business. You can even use the IP phone or VoIP service provider of your choice — talk aggregate solutions do far more than and mid-sized businesses about flexibility! could be done by Asterisk alone. Digium’s that need a powerful, cost Switchvox phone system is a perfect effective phone system. example of this class of application.
  3. 3. PBX out of raw Asterisk requires some your own solution in 32 hours or less, go for probably want to tie in email and possibly IM with legacy switching gear, Asterisk can be Take the Asterisk Fast-Start or Asterisk fairly advanced technical skills, including a it. If not, take a good look at Switchvox. notifications and reminders. Given a skilled indispensable. It acts as a kind of “telephony Advanced class for a bit of hands-on good working knowledge of IP networking, development team you can probably bang glue” that ties VoIP to TDM and digital to training. You’ll find that building solid Linux/Unix system administration skills, The Case For Asterisk this out in a few months. analog. It also bolts onto legacy systems as solutions with Asterisk is drastically easier traditional telephony experience and script Let’s go back to the engine/vehicle a perfect low-cost adjunct. Your customer than building your own voice engine from Compare that with building from scratch programming know-how. Even those who metaphor. Asterisk is an engine. It’s has an Octel voice messaging system that’s scratch using a raw C language API from and you can see the power of Asterisk. You are fully versed in all four of these disciplines powerful. It’s flexible. It has enormous on its last legs? No problem. Replace it with some proprietary vendor. didn’t have to write (or license) a SIP stack. potential. What it requires is a skilled You didn’t have to write your own DTMF Asterisk is also a terrific way to learn engineer (or even a skilled shade-tree detection algorithm. In fact, the actual about telephony and communications.If you are creating a product or a mechanic) who can take the engine and If you’re in need of a “telephony programming” probably came Students, hobbyists and artists have usedcustom solution that requires integrated build it into a vehicle. If you are creating a great phone system down to a few dozen lines of Dialplan script Asterisk to build some extraordinarilyvoice communications, Asterisk is product or a custom solution that requires and a bit of SQL to query the database. at a great price, check out creative applications while at the sameexactly what you need. integrated voice communications, Asterisk You shaved years off your development Switchvox. time learning about telecommunications. is exactly what you need. and testing path, added value through your Some of the most successful developers Let’s take the product scenario first. If snappy web interface and built it all on a in the Asterisk ecosystem started out will need to overcome something of a you want to build a conferencing server free engine. Nice. an Asterisk-based system. Your biggest experimenting with the code while in learning curve to create a working system. that connects to both VoIP and PSTN client needs a dialer that can call an entire Asterisk fits very comfortably into the college or even high school. Once the system is up and running you will networks, Asterisk is a great starting city in an hour? Sure. Asterisk can do that. toolboxes of telephony integrators and need someone on staff (or at least on call) point. Asterisk has all kinds of features data VARs. If you’ve ever done custom If you’re already familiar with networks, Conclusion who knows how the system works and how that make multi-party conferencing really, integration work you know how difficult telephony and scripting, the Asterisk learning If you’re technically inclined and want to to handle any moves, adds or changes. really easy. It also includes native support it can be to make systems from different curve is fairly easy to overcome. Read build a communication product or solution, Digium’s flagship Switchvox SMB system for every major VoIP and PSTN protocol in vendors (or different generations) play nicely. Asterisk: The Future of Telephony by Smith, then Asterisk is for you. If you’re in need of a (with all the bells and whistles you can use today. To build a conferencing server In enterprise scenarios where modern data Madsen and Van Meggelen. Take a look at great phone system at a great price, check applications share space in the server room the samples and recipes on asterisk.org. out Switchvox.Asterisk has enormous potential. imagine) starts at around $3600. Our basic out of Asterisk you need to pick out your SOHO package is only $1600. If you’re still platform hardware (computer), create an Want more information on Switchvox? tempted to use Asterisk, that’s fine but first administration interface (probably a web Digium. We’re changing the way businesses communicate. ® Take a virtual tour of do this: Divide $1600 by what you think an application running on Apache) and possibly this powerful Unified Communications platform: hour of your time is worth. Let’s use $50 per an end-user interface. You’ll probably want Founded in 1999, Digium is the creator and primary able prices for small and medium businesses. The award- www.digium.com/switchvox developer of Asterisk, the industry’s first open source winning line of Switchvox IP PBX phone systems provides hour as an example. $1600 / $50 = 32 hours. to integrate with calendaring systems like telephony platform. More than one million customers in more than a phone system — it delivers a Unified Commu- Contact us — If you can learn enough Asterisk to build Exchange, iCal, Google Calendar, etc. You 125 countries have deployed Asterisk-based systems. nications platform that integrates multiple features that we’re here to help. Digium is committed to ending the days of expensive, increase productivity and lower monthly communication Talk with a Switchvox specialist: proprietary telecom. The Switchvox family of Unified costs. It’s the affordable solution with a proven return on 1 877 344 4861 Communications solutions is built on Asterisk and is investment for businesses with 10 to 400 users. 1 256 428 6271 designed to provide enterprise class features at afford- Learn more at digium.com/switchvox sales@digium.com Copyright © 2011 Digium, Inc. All rights reserved. Digium, Asterisk and Switchvox are trademarks of Digium, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Version 1.0/3 January 2011

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