Is Asterisk Channel Finally Ready For Its Close-Up?

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A number of networking and infrastructure vendors have made Asterisk and the Asterisk channel an essential part of their own growth strategies, and have allied themselves with Digium as a result.

Skype, for example, introduced Skype for Asterisk in 2008, and Skype executives say Asterisk availability is going to be crucial as the popular consumer VoIP service elbows its way into the enterprise and architects a channel program.

"The reason why we reached out to Digium and Asterisk is because of the fact that they are doing the disruptive telecommunications technology just like Skype is doing on the Web," said Matthew Jordan, enterprise business development manager at Skype.

Native Skype capabilities in Asterisk have been hungrily embraced by developers, Jordan suggested.

"The developer community and the user community are very much do-it-yourself-type folks," he said. "We're able to offer big value to the business and developers can make Skype very exciting to specific use cases."

It isn't just upstart vendors, either, that are throwing support behind Asterisk. Polycom, for example, is a long-established supporter of Asterisk and Digium specifically, and Switchvox 4.5 is fully compatible with all of Polycom's handsets, save for a scant few older models.

Executives told at the conference that Asterisk support would be crucial as Polycom looks to revamp its own channel program and go head to head with the newly combined Cisco-Tandberg and other IP and unified communications rivals.

"Everything we do is based on open standards to align with a community focused on that as well," said Tim Yankey, Polycom's director of product marketing. "We have a vision for unified communications that leverages and easily manages all different modes of communication. I think that's a vision we share with Digium and also with resellers who use both Polycom and Asterisk solutions."

"We have very productive partnerships with a number of platform vendors, some more prepackaged than others," added Polycom co-founder and CTO Jeffrey Rodman. "What's important about this one is that every component is negotiable [to developers]. This whole idea of creating these applications is very powerful to them. There is no UC vendor out there that has the deep understanding necessary to cover everything."

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