The Skylark Trixbox/Asterisk Telephone System
If you are interested in an alternative to expensive, proprietary business telephone systems and constrictive service agreements keep reading.
Skylark’s telephone system solution is ideally suited to small to medium sized organisations of between ten and fifty people spread across a number of geographical locations nationally and internationally.
Our system is based on open source Trixbox and Asterisk rather than a proprietary system. This offers two big benefits to you. Firstly, Trixbox and Asterisk are free; you simply pay for our time in installing the system and for providing support if you require it. Secondly, should your relationship with us end your system is not exclusive to Skylark.
Our Trixbox based system manages the installation, configuration and administration of the Asterisk IP-PBX telephony system. The combined package offers the following features:
- Inherently designed to utilise VoIP. VoIP can reduce expensive national and international calls. Instead of just using traditional phone lines POTS, ISDN2, ISDN30, etc. Asterisk has the additional inherent ability to route calls over the internet. When appropriate, these are sent to the nearest local connection at which point a much reduced local charge is made to connect the call. When making calls over the internet, a key issue is voice quality. Sufficient bandwidth is required to support the total number of calls at any one time. This requirement can be reduced by the use of compression protocols (codecs) to ensure call quality. Asterisk is again designed to make use of these codecs.
- Locally hosted conferencing call capability. Instead of using third party conferencing providers, multiple simultaneous conference calls can be hosted by the Asterisk system. These permit internal extensions and external calls to be connected in one or more conferences at the same time.
- Free calls between remote workers and main office. Using a soft phone installed on their computer, remote staff connected to the main site via a standard VPN can make and receive calls as if they were in the main office. This means that internal calls are free of charge, incoming external calls can be routed to the remote worker free of charge and external calls made by the remote staff are charged at the same rate as the main office.
- Free calls between remote offices and main office. Similarly, one or more separate remote office(s) can be connected together via VPN(s) with the same call cost advantages
- Software based softphones. One of the most significant costs in the installation of a new phone system is the cost of renewing handsets. Making use of softphones where ever possible can substantially reduce this cost. A softphone is a software programme that is installed on a PC/Mac which enables calls to be taken and made via the computer. This does require the computer to be equipped with a headset and microphone. However this represents a significant cost saving over a traditional dedicated handset. In addition softphones can have greater functionality than traditional phones, and can be integrated into other software programs such as contact lists and calendars, etc.
- Non-Proprietary hardware. Trixbox / Asterisk can run on generic server hardware, meaning that it can be arranged to use a similar hardware platform as the rest of the clients hardware infrastructure. This is very different from the traditional phone systems where the hardware and software are proprietary, manufactured by one organisation and can only be serviced by that organisation or its agents. This can lead to expensive dedicated maintenance contracts, and hardware repair bills.
- Call logging, reporting and statistics are available. The system can provide statistics of incoming and outgoing calls, extensions used, call duration, etc. This information on can be exported for use in spreadsheets, reports etc.
- Web interface for configuring and maintenance. One of the advantages of using Trixbox to set up and manage the Asterisk system is that it utilises a web interface to connect to the system. This web interface includes many tools for configuring, maintaining and monitoring the Asterisk system. New tools or modules are constantly being developed and these can be added to the interface as they become available and required.
- Open and extensible. Trixbox/Asterisk is an open source system which means that its source code is published and available. This has the advantage that the system can be configured to do virtually any telephony requirement. In addition, there are many suppliers in the market that have developed add-ons for Asterisk providing an extremely broad base of functionality to choose from. The system can also be expanded to serve a considerably larger user population and split across multiple locations, should this ever be a requirement. Fundamentally this future-proofs the investment in the system as it will grow and change as the business moves forward. Businesses are far less likely to be in a situation where they have to change the phone system because it no longer fits the business needs.
- Increased Reliability. Few phone systems in this price range have the capability of fault tolerant configurations, meaning that in a situation of hardware failure, the traditional phone system will stop working. With a Trixbox/Asterisk telephone system, the hardware can be specified up to the level of fault protection required by the business. The recommended specification would include a server running with redundant power supplies, mirrored hard drives and an uninterruptible power supply to ensure the phone system keeps running. If the handsets are also powered by the UPS via a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch, then they will continue to work through a power failure too.
- Full portable for office relocations. As the system is based on software running on standard server hardware and connected to handsets via traditional Ethernet network infrastructure it is fully portable for office relocation, provided an Ethernet network is available.
- Option of integrating a Customer Relationship Management - Trixbox provides the optional of installing the Sugar CRM package, also developed on the open source platform. This CRM system is gaining recognition as a leading package, competing with leaders such as SalesForce.com. This could provide a single reference point for customer and contact information.