Finally, there is a new long-term support (LTS) version of the open source Asterisk VoIP IP-PBX system. Asterisk 1.8 is being released this week, marking the first new LTS for Asterisk since the 1.4 release in 2006 .
The new Asterisk 1.8 release is intended to be supported for at least the next four years, as part of a new support model the project first discussed earlier this year. Asterisk 1.8 packs in a long list of new features, including reverse call display and integrated Google Voice support.
"This is huge news for people that are building commercial systems or their own phone system out of Asterisk, as they'll get four years of support from Digium," Steve Sokol product manager at Digium told InternetNews.com. "So if people are looking to jump in and start developing a solution based on Asterisk, this is the right time."
In terms of new enhancements in Asterisk 1.8, the new release includes support for SRTP (Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol). Sokol explained that in conjunction with Asterisk's secure SIP, which has been in Asterisk since the 1.6 release, Asterisk now has fully encrypted call capabilities.
New ISDN (define)features are being baked into Asterisk 1.8 with support for call completion services and message waiting indication. There is also support for a reverse caller ID function, called connected party identification. Additionally, support for Google Talk and Google Voice debuts in Asterisk 1.8 enabling support for inbound and outbound calling.
Calendar integration with Microsoft Exchange is also being integrated into Asterisk 1.8. Sokol noted that the Microsoft Exchange integration was done using open source, not proprietary code.
IPv6 support is being integrated into Asterisk 1.8 as well, allowing VoIP users to use both the new IPv6 as well as the current IPv4 addressing space. Sokol noted that both IPv4 and IPv6 would be supported simultaneously on Asterisk 1.8, though he was unable to comment on the mechanism by which the joint IPv4 / IPv6 support would be enabled.
Asterisk Business Edition
For now, the Asterisk 1.8 release is only part of the core open source edition of Asterisk. Digium also develops a commercial business edition of Asterisk, though the 1.8 features won't be in that version for several months. The Asterisk Business Edition isn't the only way to get commercial support for Asterisk anymore though.
"We've re-targeted the business edition for OEM operations and we have now replaced most of what the business edition was with Asterisk support subscriptions," Sokol said. "So people can purchase a support package from Digium for any version of Asterisk that they want including 1.8. So people that were purchasing the business edition just to get support, simply need to buy a support subscription for open source Asterisk."
Moving forward, the Asterisk community is already in the process of determining which features should land in the next release of Asterisk, which is being numbered as version 1.10. In terms of potential features, Sokol noted that scalability and high-availability are always issues for new Asterisk releases to deal with.
As to why the next release is being number 1.10 and not Asterisk 2.0, it all has to do with architecture.
"Anything that maintains the same core architecture will be called Asterisk 1.x," Sokol said. "If we were to ever establish a new architecture, that would require the move to an Asterisk 2.x naming convention."