What is Asterisk
Asterisk is an open source framework for building communications applications. Asterisk turns an ordinary computer into a communications server. Asterisk powers IP PBX systems, VoIP gateways, conference servers and other custom solutions. It is used by small businesses, large businesses, call centers, carriers and government agencies, worldwide. Asterisk is free and open source. Asterisk is sponsored by Digium.
Today, there are more than one million Asterisk-based communications systems in use, in more than 170 countries. Asterisk is used by almost the entire Fortune 1000 list of customers. Most often deployed by system integrators and developers, Asterisk can become the basis for a complete business phone system, or used to enhance or extend and existing system, or to bridge a gap between systems.
To see an introductory video click on Tux the penguin
Asterisk as a switch (PBX)
Asterisk can be configured as the core of an IP or hybrid PBX, switching calls, managing routes, enabling features, and connecting callers with the outside world over IP, analog (POTS), and digital (T1/E1) connections.
Asterisk runs on a wide variety of operating systems including Linux, Mac OS X, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Sun Solaris and provides all of the features you would expect from a PBX including many advanced features that are often associated with high end (and high cost) proprietary PBXs. Asterisk’s architecture is designed for maximum flexibility and supports Voice over IP in many protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.
Asterisk as a gateway
It can also be built out as the heart of a media gateway, bridging the legacy PSTN to the expanding world of IP telephony. Asterisk’s modular architecture allows it to convert between a wide range of communications protocols and media codecs.
Asterisk as a feature/media server
Need an IVR? Asterisk’s got you covered. How about a conference bridge? Yep. It’s in there. What about an automated attendant? Asterisk does that too. How about a replacement for your aging legacy voicemail system? Can do. Unified messaging? No problem. Need a telephony interface for your web site? Ok.
Asterisk in the call center
Asterisk has been adopted by call centers around the world based on its flexibility. Call center and contact center developers have built complete ACD systems based on Asterisk. Asterisk has also added new life to existing call center solutions by adding remote IP agent capabilities, advanced skills-based routing, predictive and bulk dialing, and more.
Asterisk in the network
Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs), competitive local exchange carriers (CLECS) and even first-tier incumbents have discovered the power of open source communications with Asterisk. Feature servers, hosted services clusters, voicemail systems, pre-paid calling solutions, all based on Asterisk have helped reduce costs and enabled flexibility.
Asterisk has become the basis for thousands of communications solutions. If you need to communicate, Asterisk is your answer.
Asterisk® needs no additional hardware for Voice over IP. For interconnection with digital and analog telephony equipment, Asterisk® supports a number of hardware devices, most notably all of the hardware manufactured by Digium®, the creator of Asterisk®.
Asterisk-based telephony solutions offer a rich and flexible feature set. Asterisk® offers both classical PBX functionality and advanced features which interoperates with traditional standards-based telephony systems and Voice over IP systems.
Asterisk® supports a wide range of protocols for the handling and transmission of voice over traditional telephony interfaces including H.323, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), and Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP).
Using the Inter-Asterisk eXchange (IAX™) Voice over IP protocol Asterisk® merges voice and data traffic seamlessly across disparate networks. The use of Packet Voice allows Asterisk® to send data such as URL information and images in-line with voice traffic, allowing advanced integration of information.
Asterisk® provides a central switching core, with four APIs for modular loading of telephony applications, hardware interfaces, file format handling, and codecs. It allows for transparent switching between all supported interfaces, allowing it to tie together a diverse mixture of telephony systems into a single switching network.