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Advice Needed on Asterik VOIP Solution

We  are testing Asterik, for a VOIP solution, as a replacment for an aging PBX in one of our branch offices. We have forecasted 23K needed to replace the PBX and phone sets. This is going to require a complete change out of phone systems. We are running a 1.5 MB MPLS to all of our branch offices. We are using open source for enterprise solutions such as security, helpdesk, and a means of securing of our incoming customer data transmissions. While I don't mind using open source for some solutions I have concerns about using it in this instance.

I would like to know your experiences with Asterik and any lessions learned you can pass on.

Though more costly, we are also considering the Cisco VOIP solution. We have 2821 routers in all of our branch offices and went with these routers with the thought that we might migrate to the CISCO VOIP solution.

Any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated.    
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jhhaley
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jhhaley
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grbladesCommented:
I shared your concerns when I installed Asterisk about 9 months ago but I am happy to say that it has worked fine ever since. I have only had one problem where the OS ran out of file descripors caused by some kind of bug in asterisk where it did not release them in some circumstances. Phone functionality worked fine but the voicemail system stopped working. Doing a weekly 'restart when convenient' is recomended practice and I wasn't doing that. If I had I would not have encountered the problem.

We have a primary and a backup asterisk server which both have E1/T1 cards fitted for connection to our ISDN30 telephone line. The idea being that asterisk runs on a normal PC so hardware reliability is an issue so we have a backup server we can immediatly switch over to.
Configuration and voicemail files are syncronised over to the backup server every night using rsync.
If you intend to use any application which needs to save variables to a database I would recomend using LDAP. LDAP has an automatic master/slave system so you can have automatic replication of updates between ldap servers which is nice.

We use the Grandstream GXP-2000 phones which work very well. The only downside is the speakerphone is very poor and we have had volume issues when trying to use headsets with them but for general use they work very well.
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jhhaleyAuthor Commented:
My central office has 100 phones and with 8 branch offices we total 525 total phones. Would you go with Asterik or a Cisco VOIP solution? Other than what you mentioned are their any best practices, maintenance issues, proactive monitoring or other recommendations you can pass on that you feel are needed to keep this system up and running 24 X 7. Are you providing 100% of the maintenance and support?
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grbladesCommented:
I would personally go with Asterisk and have a server on each site. If you are not familiar with Linux then you might want to go with Cisco instead and pay a little more but have an easier admin task. It really depends on what you are comfortable doing.

I think I basically covered everything in my first post. There is a good page at http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/view/Asterisk+High+Availability+Solutions which gives other solutions to a high availability system. We just had a backup box we could bring online manually but with additional software configuration and hardware you can make a linux cluster with fully automatic failover.

Dont try using Trixbox. It does not give you the full configurability through the web interface and trying to customise it laster is very difficult. You are better off installing Linux and Asterisk from scratch.
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