Asterisk 15 Debuts Advancing Open Source Collaboration Technology with Video

Tuesday Oct 3rd 2017 by Sean Michael Kerner
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Asterisk which has long been best known as a voice PBX, now gets improved support for video.

Digium, the lead commercial sponsor behind the Asterisk open source PBX project, announced the release Asterisk 15 on Oct. 3, pushing the 13 year—old effort into the world of video conferencing.

Asterisk first had a stable release back in 2004 with the debut of Asterisk 1.0, and was most recently updates in September 2016 with the Asterisk 14 update.

Among the key new innovations that have landed in the Asterisk 15 milestone is new support for video endpoints. The new video capabilities are a function of adding multi-party selective forwarding unit (SFU) video conferencing to Asterisk's existing ConfBridge audio conferencing application.

"All audio-only devices that were previously supported by Asterisk and ConfBridge will continue to be supported," Charlie Wilson, Director, developer products at Digium told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "Additionally, we've attached video-enabled endpoints such as WebRTC browser clients and SIP-based video door phones."

Wilson noted that prior to Asterisk 15 video support in Asterisk was minimal. He explained that there were (and still are) many ways to manipulate audio, but video was only supported as a single stream. 

"Now with Asterisk 15, video support has been elevated," Wilson said. " Several different mechanisms were added in Asterisk 15 to better support video and WebRTC, including support for multiple streams and using Asterisk as a Selective Forwarding Unit (SFU)."

LTS

Asterisk 15 is what Digium considers to be a standard release of Asterisk and will supported for approximately one year. Digium also has Long Term Support (LTS) versions of Asterisk which are typically supported for five years.

The Asterisk 11 LTS was first released in October 2012.  Wilson said that all support for Asterisk 11 will cease at the end of this month.  Asterisk 13 is Digium's other LTS version and was first released in October 2014. 

"With the launch of Asterisk 15 as a standard (i.e. non-LTS) version, we're extending support of Asterisk 13 such that bug fixes will continue until October 2020 and security fixes will continue until October 2021," Wilson said.

When Asterisk first got started, bare metal deployments were the norm, but over the years that has shifted as users increasingly adopt Docker containers.

"Members of the Asterisk community started containerizing Asterisk back in 2013 and continue to do so today," Wilson said.

Looking forward, Wilson said that the Asterisk project will continue to be driven by the needs of the Asterisk community. 

"Video and other collaboration features have been popular requests, so I would expect the Asterisk team to focus heavily on improving the video experience further, including advanced control using the Asterisk REST Interface (ARI) API," he added.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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