Implementing Asterisk as a Phone System, Part 1

This is a series on Implementing Asterisk. This subject is about VOIP*, to some is sexy in terms of lower costs and high benefits like click to dial, Active Directory Implementation, etc. etc. VOIP is really not a sexy subject, especially when implementing and set up the idea of reliability, security and resiliency. This could be the case if you are someone who hoards alot of analog phones and TCP/IP knowledge is second hand knowledge.

This is a work in progress and these are my documented notes to provide as a service to my followers if you are learning IP or learning VOIP and ether don’t have experience in networking. This series will bridge them together (at least that’s the intent.)

* I use all caps for most of all abbreviations/acronyms even if “over” or “of” or “as” are lowercase. I come from the background of using capitals just to make it look more professional and not some CraZY MySpAceGirl. 🙂

I’ll be talking about a project implementing basic VOIP services for a customer as a lab project. Before I go on I am keeping very technical details vague or withheld as this project is beta testing project for a customer of which I want to keep it confidential.

Lets drill down quickly on the Asterisk softswitch

  • Contrary to the belief by the PC geeks, Asterisk is still and will never be a true “PBX”. Or at least compared to the ones made in the last 30 years. Asterisk is basically a PBX equivelent to the ones made before the digital ones, where it could make calls, receive calls and do other basic things in the modern sense like basic voicemail, basic conferencing and basic paging (if you’re lucky to get that accomplished!)   Most I have seen in the various distros, the Asterisk can max at about 400 terminals and I don’t know tens of trunks. The Asterisk (and it’s respective distros) still miss out on many core PBX features that still haven’t been able to be reversed engineered.
  • It’s mostly a snapon Linux service (that is more painful to snap on unlike a Windows service, without a distro.)
  • I’ve used the now dated TrixBox CE, but also trying FreePBX and Elastix. Elastix is cool though in my application, I am using IBM Lotus Notes (transitioning from an MS Exchange setup) so I really don’t need email/calendar but the IM to me can be relevant in an IPT/UC setup. The official Asterisk releases I wasn’t too thrilled with, and release 1.7 I got reservations. The GUI one in R1.7 uses Google cloud UI – not good if you don’t trust in Google.
  • Networking. The most amusing thing from these PC guys is you never hear QOS, VLAN and ensuring at least a four-nine reliability. The PC geeks believes everything will “plug and play” nice. If you think you can brag about setting up a “PBX”, think twice before you brag if you aren’t familiar with IP Networking  Read on