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The Power of Asterisk Revealed: What the Open Source Software Can Do for You

The Power of Asterisk Revealed: What the Open Source Software Can Do for You

October 04, 2011
By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Small businesses, enterprises and even governments use Asterisk-based technologies to enable feature-rich voice communications over a Web connection. But not all current and prospective Asterisk (News - Alert) users know the true power of the open source software.

The capabilities provided by Asterisk stretch well beyond traditional voice. The software also enables next-gen communication functionality like text-to-speak, automatic speech recognition and voicemail/email integration, which allows users to unify their email and voicemail at no charge and natively store voicemails in IMAP.

In addition, Asterisk users can leverage the power of Google services to place and receive free calls using Google (News - Alert) Voice and GTalk. Asterisk servers also sport a calendaring API that can be integrated with CalDAV, Exchange and iCalendar.

On the business side, Asterisk can connect users to directories and authenticate them against an LDAP server, Lotus Domino Directory, Apple OpenDirectory, or Microsoft (News - Alert) ActiveDirectory. Servers can also be integrated with compatible databases for user management, enabling the logging of calls and authentication of users.

Want to have a little more fun with a phone system? Asterisk has been used on some occasions by IT administrators to make a game out of their call queues. Hold music can be replaced by interactive trivia games that keep callers from pulling their hair out from listening to Michael Bolton or a silent line. Even more practical, administrators can use Asterisk to set up a system where callers can hang up and get a call back when a customer service representative is freed up.

Other fun differentiating options offered by Asterisk include PITCH_SHIFT function, which alters the pitch of a caller's voice, and JACK, a new offering that can modify audio in fun ways.

Possibly the most underrated benefit of Asterisk-based solutions is the high-quality audio that they provide. The latest version of the software can provide CD or even Blu-ray quality sound.

Oh, and did we mention that Asterisk is free, open source software?

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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