15 Open-Source PBX/VoIP Products To Know

Will this be the year open-source PBX and VoIP systems are ready for their close-up? The opportunity is better than ever, argued attendees at January's Digium Asterisk World conference in Miami. According to one researcher, Eastern Management Group, open-source PBXes now account for 18 percent of all PBX sales in North America -- and that number's rising.

Asterisk is the heavyweight of open-source PBX platforms, commanding some 88 percent of North American market share. Most of the following open source PBX vendors were on hand at Digium Asterisk World and specialize in Asterisk solutions, but Asterisk is also one PBX platform of several, with plenty of alternatives nibbling at its heels. Here's a roundup of 15 of the most notable open source PBX vendors out there. Many are focused squarely on SMB, though that could change as open source continues to gain greater enterprise acceptance, and most have channel programs.

Headquarters: Calgary, Alberta

Aksys' KONNECT Office Phone System copped a best of show award at last year's IT Expo, the umbrella conference that includes Digium Asterisk World. It's presently available in two models: the KONNECT 600PL VoIP and landline phone and the 600P IP phone, which includes the 600PL's features minus a landline (FXO connector), and includes three-way conference calling, public address, paging to multiple phones, 3-digit dialing between sites and the ability to support as many as 14 concurrent calls per phone. Aksys markets KONNECT as an "office phone system inside a phone" and has gained traction with small businesses looking to integrate VoIP and landline functions and home and remote offices.

Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec

Aheeva's Asterisk-based Contact Center Suite (CCS) 2.2 is designed as an all-in-one contact center offering that ties together call routing, contact management functions and support and research functions -- all of the traditional call center features -- and latches on to an existing IP infrastructure to provide those things. According to Aheeva, it's fully scaleable and requires only a Web browser for access, which ramps up its appeal as a services play for remote monitoring, management and network analytics. Aheeva's message is that it's bringing functionality of a traditional telephony switch-based call center at a fraction of what proprietary systems cost.

Headquarters: Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

CoreDial's VoiceAxis is a turnkey software package targeted to enterprise-level businesses and service providers. The suite is designed for the management, billing and provisioning of hosted PBX, VoIP, SIP trunking and other related products -- essentially a one-stop management tool that Asterisk lovers have embraced for its ease-of-use with Asterisk PBXes. Version 3.0 of VoiceAxis arrived in October 2009.

Headquarters: Parsippany, N.J.

Dialogic's DiaStar Server is a platform for app dev -- Asterisk-based or otherwise -- around functions like call progress analysis, fax, fax over IP, SS7 and Sigtran. The goal, according to Dialogic, is to get developers as much flexibility as possible, whether they want to leverage PSTN protocols like ISDN, SS7 or CAS or provide rich applications around voice and video. For LAN environments, Dialogic uses Woomera, the open-source IP-based signaling protocol.

Headquarters: Huntsville, Ala.

As the creator of Asterisk, Digium makes the platform available in a variety of ways, both as free code and as value-added telephony and platform packages for businesses. But the company is perhaps seeing the most traction with Switchvox -- which Digium bought in 2007 -- and its flagship products, which are IP PBXes geared for SMBs. The latest release of Switchvox, SMB 4.5, adds phone feature packs that bring functions like call recording and visual voice mail directly to compatible handsets, as opposed to being available only from the Web, as they were in previous Switchvox additions.

Headquarters: Los Angeles

Fonality's trixbox Pro, the business version of its IP-PBX software trixbox, comes in four editions: Pro Standard Edition (SE), Enteprise Edition (EE), Call Center Edition (CCE) and Unified Agent Edition (UAE). Fonality uses what it calls a hybrid-hosted architecture: a split, hosted-plus-premise model that includes free VoIP calling and monitoring like most hosted solutions provide, but also PSTN connectivity and call privacy like you'd find in a more traditional PSTN set-up. Started by enterpreneur Chris Lyman about five years ago, Fonality first came to many solution providers' notice with its Asterisk-based PBXtra.

Headquarters: Chicago

OrecX makes voice recording, screen capture and quality monitoring products to be used with call centers. Its basic Oreka GPL recorder integrates with any phone system and computer and is free. The total recorder (TR) is available for $199 a year and is OrecX's value-add version, offering the ability to record VoIP SIP sessions through network packets, record multiple channels from standard sound devices like microphones, and segment and split audio into different, retrievable files. According to OrecX's, call replay is accessed through the Web and available on all standard browsers without a software upgrade.

Headquarters: Truckee, Calif.

Freeside's open-source billing, CRM, trouble-ticketing and automation software copped a Best of Show award at this month's Digium Asterisk World / IT Expo in Miami -- the second year in a row it's collected the honor. It's as described: open-source software for ISPs, VoIP, hosted solutions, service providers and other customers, including Web-based businesses, that don't want to pay through the nose for comparable proprietary systems. Freeside itself began as an internal application developed by a regional ISP in the mid-90s, from which its founders released the first open-source version of its code and turned the application into a consultancy and provider of pre-configured hardware.


Skype's announcement, in fall 2008, a version of Skype compatible with the Asterisk platform saw many developers licking their chops. Skype, like the Asterisk platform itself, is a disruptive technology, and both developers and solution providers have designs on bringing the popular consumer VoIP service into enterprises all over the world. When embedded in an Asterisk PBX, Skype users can make, receive, transfer and enable multiple Skype calls and use G.711 and G.729 codecs. Asterisk support may prove crucial for Skype as the company begins to architect a channel program for enterprise users.

Headquarters: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

China-based Synway makes media processing and signaling products, telephony hardware and multimedia switches for use in convergence settings, and it's an active supporter of Asterisk and other open-source-based PBX deployments. Among its Asterisk-oriented products are the FXM Series Analog Telephony Card (pictured), which according to Synway supports FXO and FX lines for any open-source application, as well as the TEJ Series Digital Telephony Card (a hardware architecture), the CDC Series Transcoding Card (codec translation between G.729A and G.711), and SuPerForm, Synway's patent-owned echo cancellation technology.

Headquarters: Atlanta, Ga.

TransNexus is a software developer that provides cost routing, traffic and profit analysis and wholesale billing for VoIP networks, and has a range of strategic vendor partners both open-source-based and non, including Digium, AcmePacket, OpenSIPS and Stratus. Its lead platform is the Operations and Billing Support System (OSS/BSS) to cover VoIP routing, accounting and security needs.

Headquarters: Jamesburg, NJ

VoIP enablement for commercial businesses and wholesalers is VoicePulse's focus, and the company has built a PBX installer and reseller channel on the strength of its service offerings. VoIP services, including support for Asterisk-based systems, start at $14.99 a month and according to VoicePulse cover SMB, enterprise plans and carriers.

Headquarters: Jerusalem, Israel

Xorcom's XR brand PBX systems come in versions for small (less than 50 users, pictured), mid-sized (less than 300 users), and enterprise (up to 1,000 users) level businesses. It also makes a USB channel bank called Astribank, which was specifically designed for use with Asterisk-based PBX systems and according to Xorcom offers support for all common telephony lines and trunks, including FXS, FXO, BRI, E1/T1 PRI, T1 CAS and E1 R2.

Headquarters: Richardson, Texas

Odin Telesystems makes and sells OEM-subsystems and test equipment -- including open-source VoIP systems and telecom adapter boards -- for service providers and telecom equipment manufacturers. Its flagship is the OTX (Odin Telecom FrameworX) Computer Telephony development platform, which is enabled for protocol stacks and DSP algorithms among other software modules. Odin also makes stand-alone systems, plus PCI-Express/54 and PCMCIA adapters. With Odin's platform, telecom and service provider customers design applications like switching systems, network access devices and customer premises equipment.

Headquarters: Miami, Fla.

Redfone makes hardware and software products for open-source VoIP implementations, including bridges and gateways. The foneBridge 2 itself is a T1/E1 PRI-to-Ethernet bridge enabled for Asterisk, trixbox, FreeSwitch, Elastix and other platforms, providing Ethernet communication using Asterisk TDMoE (Time-division multiplexing over Ethernet) on Asterisk servers, instead of T1/E1 connections. The appeal of TDMoE for customers is that it offers traditional TDM features over Ethernet instead of pricey TDM hardware.