Deploying the open source Asterisk IP PBX isn't necessarily as easy as all customers need it to be, nor as feature-complete as all environments require.
One of the vendors rushing in to help fill the void is Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Novacoast Inc., which has recently released its Rapid Deployment solution for Asterisk. Called VoiceRD, it integrates hardware, software, security, and identity management.
VoiceRD includes the recently released Asterisk version 1.2 and runs on a Linux appliance from PogoLinux with Novell SUSE Linux installed. On the hardware side, the Linux appliance also has a 4 port T1 card from Asterisk's corporate sponsor Digium Inc.
Beyond just a stock Asterisk version 1.2 installation, VoiceRD also bundles codec licenses and a Novacoast-built, web-based management tool for Asterisk.
Barry Taugher director of Marketing at Novacoast explained that they tried out other Asterisk web management tools but in their experience they didn't scale well. They wrote their own management interface so that it could meet their own requirements, as well as integrate with identity management.
The Novell Identity Manager solution is used by Novacoast in the VoiceRD solution as a key component of the rapid deployment methodology. Dan Elder, Linux practice manager at Novacoast, explained that with Identity Manager, users link their Asterisk PBX deployment against an existing directory so they don't need to recreate or re-enter user data.
New user setup is also greatly simplified with Identity Manager.
Elder explained that thanks to the integration in VoiceRD of Identity Manager, one directory entry can set up a user's e-mail, phone number, and voice mail. When an administrator enters a new user into the directory a corresponding entry is generated in Asterisk with a voice mailbox.
Security has also been bolstered in VoiceRD by means of another Novell solution called AppArmor, which Novell itself acquired in May of this year. AppArmor is similar to Security Enhanced (SE) Linux which is a an effort sponsored by the NSA in that it provides a policy based approach to help secure a system and its applications. Novacoast's Elder noted that AppArmor is "faster to implement and easier to use" than SELinux.
Novacoast is not targeting VoiceRD against other Asterisk deployments. "We're really focused on the traditional PBX market and adding all the benefits of open source and identity management to that market," Taugher said.
"A lot of the open source stuff is do it yourself, while we're doing it for you."
The next step for Novacoast in rolling out VoiceRD is further integration with the application layer. "We're working with a number of California cities now to do city specific applications: civic applications that have voice and data integration, " Taugher commented.