Digium Challenges Microsoft with Phone System

Open-source IP Telephony provider Digium and Microsoft are releasing phone system appliances with IP PBX, interactive voice response, messaging and automatic call distribution.

San Jose, Calif.—Open-source IP Telephony provider Digium on March 21 provided a David answer to Microsofts Goliath in launching back-to-back phone systems for small and midsize businesses.

Both vendors chose the VON 2007 conference to introduce competing phone system appliances with a range of functions, including an IP PBX, interactive voice response, messaging and automatic call distribution.

Digium will market the Asterisk Appliance directly and through its partners. Microsoft for its part will rely on hardware OEM partners Quanta Computer, D-Link and Uniden to distribute its Response Point software.

The Asterisk Appliance, not unlike its competitors that use Microsofts Response Point software running on appliances that have no disks and require no fans, supports up to 50 users and works with both VOIP (voice over IP) and analog phones.

But the new Asterisk Appliance brings to bear the cost savings and flexibility of open-source technology, in contrast with Microsofts closed Response Point software, according to Digium Founder and Chief Technology Officer Mark Spencer.

"Asterisk is the only system where you can learn it once and it works across [a variety of connection types]", he said.

The Asterisk Appliance, which runs on the open-source Asterisk software and Linux, includes built-in Asterisk Business Edition telephony software, the Digium Asterisk-based graphical use interface and documentation.

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The appliance includes a setup wizard and autoprovisioning of Polycom IP phones, call queuing, hardware-based echo cancellation, a compact flash card for voice mail or wireless applications, and a built-in router.

It is due next month and priced at $995. Microsoft and partners have not yet released pricing and the appliances are due later this year.

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