A revolution is coming. It has been looming, but now that it has started, there will be no stopping it. It is taking place in one area of technology that has lagged far behind every other field that calls itself high-tech. The industry is telecommunications, and the revolution is being catalyzed by an open source Private Branch eXchange (PBX) called Asterisk pbx.
Telecommunications is arguably the last tech industry that has ,until now, remained untouched by the open source revolution. Major telecommunications manufacturers still build ridiculously expensive, incompatible systems, running complicated, ancient code on impressively engineered yet medieval hardware.
An example, Nortel's Business Communications Manager puts together a Windows NT 4.0 server, a 15-year-old VXWorks-based Key Telephone Switch, and a 700-MHz PC. All this can be yours for between 5 and 15 thousand dollars, minus telephones. If you want it to actually do anything interesting, you'll have to pay EXTRA licensing fees for closed, limited-functionality, shrink-wrapped applications. Customization? Mission impossible. Future technology and standards compliance? Give them a year or two they're working on it.
Major telecommunications manufacturers offer products in a simialr way. They don't want you to have flexibility or choice; they want you to be locked in to their products.
Asterisk changes all that. With Asterisk, no one is telling you how your phone system works, or what technology you are limited to. If you want it, you can have it. Asterisk embraces standards compliance, while offering the freedom to develop its own innovations. What you choose to implement is up to you-Asterisk imposes no limits.
Asterisk is not difficult to configure. People's eyes light up when they first see an Asterisk dialplan and begin to contemplate the possibilities. But when there are literally thousands of ways to achieve a result, the process naturally requires extra effort. Perhaps it can be compared to building a house: the components are easy to understand, but a person contemplating such a task must either a) enlist competent help or b) develop the required skills through practice.