Wednesday, May 11, 2005

IP-PBX and Beyond

Mark Evans

According to TD Newcrest analyst Chris Umiastowski, the next big thing in the$13-billion PBX market will be the convergence of PBX, switch and router functions on a single box. Umiastowski arrived at this conclusion after going to the Interop trade show in Las Vegas last week. Among the vendors moving in this direction are Nortel Networks, which is about to launch the BCM 50 that can be a router, switch, DSL modem, firewall, and PBX. Umiastowski was also intrigued by privately-owned EmergeCore Networks, which is selling a $1400 box that features a Wi-Fi access point, router, switch, IP-PBX, e-mail server, VPN server, firewall, and a basic CRM software package. EmergeCore's PBX is based on Asterisk - the open sources software developed by Digium Inc.'s Mark Spencer that is taking the market by storm. While difficult to configure, Asterisk offers tremendous flexibility to users looking to customize a PBX for specific tasks or functions. EmergeCore has solved the usability issue - common within the Linux world - by creating a Web-based GUI. For more information about Asterisk and Mark Spencer, check out a story I wrote recently in the National Post.

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