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New VoIP Wares Targeted At Channel

Date: 2006-6-17   Hits: 56

Solution providers were in the spotlight at the Fall VON 2006 conference in Boston as a variety of VoIPvendors rolled out new products and channel programs for their partners.

Digium, the creator and primary developer of the Asterisk open-source VoIP platform, showed off version 1.4 of the software, the first major release in nearly a year. Available for download in October, the latest version adds more than 20 new features, about half of which came from the developer community at large, said Kevin Fleming, senior software engineer at Digium, Huntsville,Ala.

The upgrade improves the quality and performance of the system. Among the new features is unified messaging capabilities that integrate voicemail, e-mail and fax into a central mailbox, support for the Google Talk communications service, the Jabber instant messaging protocol and the Jingle peer-to-peer signaling protocol.

In addition, Digium launched the new Asterisk Appliance Developer Kit, a hardware appliance scheduled for availability in October for $3,995. Next year,aplans to offer the Asterisk Appliance to end users, so the kit will give VARs, integrators and the rest of the developer community early access so they can begin building communications solutions on it, Fleming said.

The kit includes an early production pilot of the appliance and the Asterisk GUI framework, which was designed to act as a foundation for developers to customize the appliance with their own user interfaces.

The appliance will target SMBs and small branch offices of larger enterprises that have two to 50 users. It is slated for availability at the beginning of next year for $500 to $1,500.

Chad Agate, co-founder and CEO of SIPBox, a solution provider and Digium partner that formally launched at the conference, said customers are attracted to the Asterisk VoIP platform because of its lower cost and flexibility.

Tinley Park, Ill.-based SIPBox was founded in January specifically to focus on Asterisk implementations, Agate said. Working with the open-source platform affords dramatically higher margins than what the company was seeing in its previous incarnation as The Cipher Group, a VAR that worked with a variety of VoIP vendors, he said.

"    All of the money gets moved from the hardware side over to us for services. We've moved from four to five points with Cisco [Systems] to up to 50 points, and we're still saving our customers money," Agate said. Asterisk-based solutions typically cost 20 percent to 30 percent less, he said.

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