Monday, December 13, 2010

Unified Communications?– Use Google and Asterisk!



Over the past two weekends, I've dwelled in some not-so-light weighted testing of the spanking new Asterisk 1. 8 PBX. While honestly, there’s not a world of improvements from its already awesome predecessors but heck, its technically only a minor version update from the powerhouses 1.4 and 1.6. While there are many tiny yet significant changes, the ones that I've had a chance to work on (as also seen in this blog) are;
1) Google Talk/Voice (and oh, jabber)
2) Calendaring
3) Festival Text To Speech Engine
See, in contrast these three alone, comprise of probably 90% of what those big boys like Microsoft, Cisco and Ayava would claim Unified Communications on their offerings and thus swoop your left leg out of your budget should you then want/need it. Fret not homies, read on..there’s hope with quality and just about nothing spent on software!
Google boasts it’s business apps which is free for 200 users, mostly useless, but some really cool and completely integrated! Like GMail, Google Calendaring, Google Chat, Google Talk and Google Voice!
The missing link here, is, corporatization of these services and not pocketed or isolations.
Office PBXes are probably the first “corporatization” of a communication medium, next to email (but even that’s sometimes are disparate). People don’t really care if you are from @somedomain vs @someotherdomain, as long as you have a domain, you are regarded a more “serious” fish in the sea.
Now, lets jive!. Imagine, if you have a corporate PBX that can integrate with Google Business Apps! Imagine these;
1) Being able to make calls to the rest of the millions of Google (Talk) users worldwide for completely free
2) Send and receive messages via Google, route them through your cellphone and let your phone read that message to you and vis-a-viz reply a person from your cellphone back!
3) Let your PBX read out your calendar events and write impromptu events when on the GO
4) Put yourself as “busy” on your Google status and all calls now go to your voicemail
5) When a call comes to you, let the PBX decide, how to reach you? Your desk phone, cellphone, skype, google-talk, send you an SMS or an instant message that you got a call, do what ever. You can be reached and the lowest cost is decided by the system!
6) Send Fax? Sure, but its only the most ancient way of communicating, hah! But yea go crazy, how do you wish it delivered? Read it to you over the phone? Sure. Print out straight to your printer/fax, easy!. Send it as an email, anytime!
7) With a Text-To-Speech engine and the capability to do just about any dial-plan, use your PBX to read not only calendars, but things like your email, your tasks, your RSS feeds…google docs? yea, that also…
8) With Google, you have a single UI when you sign in, to call/chat/email friends straight from your browser and integrates with your PBX or the other way around
I am tickled silly with these capabilities. It really lies in the mind what you wish to build. The rest, coding etc, get a guy Smile
I hope organizations will soon come to realize the power of Asterisk 1.8 with its partner in crime Google Apps! Happy building.
From the Astiostechtech Geek (engineering) Office,
Sanjay
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