Friday, November 03, 2006

IPBX 2.0 anyone?

Andy Abramson had a struck of genius last night: he suddenly discovered that IPBX has a future in enterprises.

The future for Asterisk in my mind will be built upon adoption in the enterprise, not by small five to ten end point deployments

For all it is worth, I was under the impression the acronym meant something like "Private Branch Exchange", which does not hold any presumption on the size of what/who is privately using the exchange. As a matter of facts, nothing is precluding enterprises of any size to fall into that category.

Now one may ask why it has not happened yet, and why only "small five to ten end point deployments" are using Asterisk? Because Asterisk’s architecture is nothing but a POTS PBX with IP connectivity. In essence, it is similar to all the big telecom vendor's PBX offerings such as [add you favorite model from Alcatel, Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, etc… here], when they added VoIP support adaptors to make them "IP communication ready". At the core, these systems were still entirely subject to the tyranny of the "numbering plan". A rather rigid dependence, which is far from the flexibility provided by Internet's URIs.

In the end, Andy is right, the future of IPBX is in the enterprise, but any marketer fresh out of school would have said the same. On the other hand, I believe Andy is wrong and, because of its outdated architecture, Asterisk will not be wining this race. In my opinion, FreeSWITCH is a much better candidate to the title of IPBX 2.0 in the enterprise. It is build around the concept of what I would call a ubiquitous "signalling router" which captures the distributed nature of the Internet. Because of its routed architecture, this IPBX can be easily assembled in PBX grids and offer a host of standard IP signalling protocols for interoperability with many real-time communication and presence enabled systems. And obviously it knows how to bridge different media streams…

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