14 January 2007

Asterisk Voice Portal

Voice portal technology (in short VoiceXML capable IVR technology) is now available for the Asterisk Open Source PBX from I6NET at a very competitive price.

Voice portal technology vendors are either big players such as Genesys and Cisco or niche players such as Voxeo and Voxpilot and the like. Their offer is so expensive that it only targets the carrier and large enterprise market, leaving out the mid-market either to the legacy IVR vendors or to the hosted application service providers.

However, legacy IVR do not meet the requirements of the mid-market companies who are massively adopting ToIP & convergence whereas application service provider pricing is clearly dissuasive for most of them. There is therefore a huge potential for a low-cost full-featured voice portal platform in the mid-market segment. This makes sense to Microsoft as well who has entered the IP IVR market recently with its competitive Speech Server offer.

Asterisk is to date the #1 Open Source PBX on the market and benefits from a vivid ecosystem. I6NET has designed VXIasterisk, a VoiceXML commercial but very affordable plugin for Asterisk, that allows to turn it into a true voice portal. This Asterisk voice portal can be used as a standalone server or in a behind-the-switch configuration with SIP connectivity as illustrated below.

The VXIasterisk feature list is already impressive and is extending quickly with ASR and Video support in the pipe!

I have successfully tested the VXIasterisk 1.4 release with Asterisk 1.2 in a HA (2 redundant Asterisk servers in hot stand-by mode) behind-the-switch configuration. The switch was an Alcatel OXE R7 (Asterisk vxml ports declared as SIP users).

Useful resources for building your own sandbox without any hardware :