Asterisk Business Edition


#1

Anyone purchased Asterisk Business Edition?

We received our shrink wrapped copy today. I was quite disappointed with what Digium did to it. In the open source version, you can edit the Makefile and set PREFIX to point to any location on the system. Everything then gets installed beneath this location. It’s then very easy to create an asterisk user, and run a “chmod -R asterisk.asterisk /home/asterisk” to set the ownership for everthing asterisk related.

Well, the business edition installs from a Digium custom-written install script that compiles and installs from RPM’s, giving you no option to control this. You then need to manually go change the ownership of files all over the place, such as in /etc/asterisk, /usr/sbin/ etc. When I asked tech support about how I could set the PREFIX, I got a lot of ‘uhms’ and ‘arrs’ followed by the statement that no one has ever asked for this before. He got back to me shortly later and suggested I manually edit THEIR custom install script and see if I can dick around (he didn’t say dick around) with the options passed to the rpm commands to get it to do this.

I also asked tech support what version of the open source asterisk Business Edition was based on. He didn’t know.

Gee, I wonder what the $795 was for.


#2

Digium has chosen to provide commericial support for an opensource package, Asterisk, which they happen to be the primary sponsors of. Digium’s commerical support is seperate from the Asterisk project and should be seen as such. Any company or individual may provide support for Asterisk for a fee.

Digium may indeed have issues to work out as they rapidly grow and add new offerings (of which Asterisk Business Edition is a relatively new addition). Constructive feedback directly to Digium will hopefully result in improved processes and better overall customer care.

Digium distributes a platform that limits how it may be installed, where it may be installed (ie - RHEL3/FC3 only), etc, in order to ensure they may exert some control over environment variations in order to provide focused support. If I were Digium I would go a step further and distribute a ‘soft appliance’ with a list of supported software/hardware and require a dedicated machine (a variation on Asterisk@Home where the business edition installs the OS, compiles, etc), thereby exerting more control and thereby enhancing the overall support capacity.

The current Asterisk Business Edition is based on a stable 1.0.x release.


#3

[quote=“MuppetMaster”]
If I were Digium I would go a step further and distribute a ‘soft appliance’ with a list of supported software/hardware and require a dedicated machine (a variation on Asterisk@Home where the business edition installs the OS, compiles, etc), thereby exerting more control and thereby enhancing the overall support capacity.
[/quote]

My boss keeps asking what is better about the Business Edition and all I can tell him is that it comes with support. If it came as a package like Asterisk@Home then I’d say that we’d definitely go out any buy a pair of licenses.


#4

The business edition doesn’t really come with support. When you buy it you get one hour of support for issues relating to installation. No configuration help at all. If you want help with that, it’s going to cost you $175/hour. I really just don’t see the value in business edition. What’s the point?


#5

[quote=“dgarstang”]What’s the point?[/quote] you tell me, you paid 800 bucks for it !

seriously, i’m going to have the ABE issue come up soon, a client of mine wants the benefits of Asterisk, but is sceptical of opensource (they’re accountants !), and the last big project i quoted for, they went for the horrendously expensive Windows system over the great value Linux system, both designed by me to do the same thing, but wildly different in hardware requirements and cost.

they’ll feel they need to pay a reasonable figure for a new phone system, i’m hoping spending extra on phones and consultancy is going to be enough. i’m not going to be keen on them spending the cash on a system that i’ve already moved on from. first thing i would do with ABE is install HEAD !


#6

Really, the biggest thing about the “PRO” version, it comes with some ‘official’ Commercial Licencing and some legal protection for bean counters and the like who want to make sure they aren’t downloading a whole bunch of spyware.
It legitimizes the application in their eyes (for those of us who use it, we know who freaking incredible this product is already), but features wise, its not a whole lot different than the freebie you get off the net. Just comes in some slick shrink wrapped packaging


#7

Yup. The’yre glossy sales info says they provide bug support too. Their bug support is go to bugs.digium.com, file your own bug, and maybe we’ll get around to looking at it if we get time, based on some unknown set of criteria and conditions. If they actually DO fix the bug, they only fix it in the open source version. Nice! (not!)


#8

I think the biggest selling point of Business Edition has little to do with the licensing–it’s all about the stability. Digium advertises stress testing with Empirix Hammer (a very good SIP tool) as well as extensive regression testing on the code.

-CM


#9

Hi as a digium representive and member of support I am sorry you were not given the answers to your questions.

BE is based on a version of head a few months before BE’s release. It has been kept up to date with many bug fixes and the new A.2-beta available from the site to be owners is even more up to date. I am sorry if the support rep did not give you that info.

By default the binaries are installed in the same standard way that asterisk stable and cvs is installed. if you wish to edit this, you can alter the script where rpm -i is called and pass the following option to rpm --prefix NEWPATH as described in the rpm man pages, you can also do this manually to the rpms that come on the cd.

I hope this clears up any issues you might have in regards to BE.

As for the benefits of BE they are quite clear. Fully tested, every feature in BE has been run through extensive testing in our labs. A warranty on the software so that bugs must be fixed or work around provided for any support feature. It also includes an hour of install support. If these features are not worth the price to you, please do not purchase BE as it is not the product for you.

Matt


#10

mogorman: Our support has experience with ABE has been far from good.

Firstly I found out after we purchased the product that the host it is on requires Internet connectivity so that it can register with Digium. I don’t recollect that being documented anywhere prior to purchase.

Then I’m told that if I want to install ABE to a different location than the default paths, I have to edit the scripts supplied by Digium manually. First of it’s Digium’s ‘installbe’ script, so I don’t see why I have to edit it, and then I’m not told what I need to edit by the support guy.

We found what we believe is a bug today. I called the tech support number to report it. I was told that I should download the latest release first (which I couldn’t do because your developers had only tested against Firefox, not IE and the download doesn’t work with IE). I think you need to incorporate IE into your QA process in your support portal. So I go ahead and download it. I was expecting to see a list of bug fixes in the release, or maybe some release notes. Nope, not there. I did notice that the effort was made to include several product brochures in PDF format however. I call tech support back and get told that they can’t help me until I install the latest version. So, I installed the latest version.

The bug behaviour pesists. So, I call tech support back again. They didn’t know what to do, so I asked if maybe I should file a bug at bugs.digium.com, and guess what they said? ‘Sure’. If I hadn’t suggested it, I doubt they would have even thought of it. So I file a bug (forget the number, cant get into the web site right now). Someone with an alias of kpfleming CLOSES the bug with a resolution comment of ‘Not a bug’.

That’s when I called tech support back. The guy I spoke to said he’d look into it.

I get the distinct impression, with due cause I believe, that no one really knows what they are doing their at Digium. I also really don’t see the value we get for our $800. You don’t supply the music on hold files (yes, one of the tech support guys said you can’t because your selling Asterisk) and it doesn’t look like you include the addon scripts either, such as the one that creates voicemail boxes. So, after I go and install ABE, I have to jerk around and install all this extra stuff manually AND I can’t install it to where I want and run it as another user.

With the open source version, you edit the makefile, change the PREFIX variable, run a make install install it where-ever the heck you want, run a chown -R on the install prefix, and VOILA!

Dont’ give me that ‘this may not be the product’ for you stuff. The support experience so far has been very unprofessional, and given all the extra steps required to install ABE, I’m really tying to understand the benefit. We expected to be able to report bugs and have some sort of format process requiring that they be assigned a priority and bugs with higher priority have certain time frames for being investigate and fixed. Once again the support guy did not know anything about this stuff. No idea…


#11

Once again I reiderate my appologies in regards to your support experience thus far. However in regards to the website info, it appears you entered invalid information in your registration of BE such that it caused the errors you experienced in your viewing of the page. As for why this bug showed itself in IE and not in firefox, my assumption would be that firefox is more rebust with handling errors in the page. I have also been informed by our web staff that these problems have been resolved.
Also BE does not require a net connection. There is a manual registration form that you can fill out, to which we will then respond to and email you a license key for your copy of BE on the hardware you wish to run it on. As for your problem with roundrobin it does sound like you really want rrmemory as it would start where it left off, where as roundrobin in the config you suggest will always start at 1 and go forward.
As for bugs in regard to BE this is the one advantage BE has over the normal version. Support will fix this for you. or provide the same functionality in another way. If you continue to need assistance please contact me directly mogorman@digium.com extension x6287 I will be more than happy to do everything my power to improve your digium experience.

Matt


#12

mogorman: If your referring to my registration specifically, I don’t know if I agree with that. Another employee where I work registered on the portal before me, and he also had problems logging into the portal. When I registered, I entered bogus information because I mistyped my name (and backspace didn’t work) and thinking that I would get a chance to review before submitting, I just entered crap for the rest of the fieds.

Yes, BE doesn’t require a net connection but it’s a pain in the but to do the manual process.

We don’t want rrmemory! We want roundrobin! The shrinkwrapped docs say that roundrobin rings each interface in order. This implies it starts from the same agent each time. We always want incoming calls to cycle through agents in the same order, not pick up where they left off. Pretty strange that doesn’t work because you’d think it would be the most basic strategy.

One unofficial doc source out there say that round robin is more like rrmemory. Seeing as though the shrink wrapped docs just have a verbatim copy of what 99.9% of the docs out there say, that’s how we’d like it to work. :smile:


#13

mogorman
You and your team, keep up the great work. The Asterisk suite, and the digium cards have litterly changed the way we do business and the amount of money it costs us for the better. (Anyone here have to buy Dialogic cards??? Digiums are fantastic value!!!)

The software and the hardware have proven themselves over and over to me and the installations we’ve done with them.

Our entire office branch Nortel Option 11 system was completely replaced and lays in the corner as proof that Asterisk can do everything it did and A LOT more.

Great job guys!


#14

Ditto. One has to provide some space to Digium with constructive feedback as they are a growing concern that has contributed much to the world of telephony.