Asterisk for Voice mail only and for IVR

I work in a telesales phone center, and we have a request from a couple clients to provide “answering machine” capability for customers. We currently are using real answering machines attached to a single POTS line for two of them, but obviously we are limited by the capacity of the hardware, storage space for the equipment, and ever-increasing cost as we get more of these requests.

Can Asterisk provide that capability in a single machine format, so that I can connect all the relevant POTS lines to the computer? As I am new to this course of action, please give me a thumbnail sketch of what hardware I would need to connect the POTS lines, and how one of our agents would be able to access the machine to retrieve messages.

Also, a slightly different question. Can Asterisk support complex IVR? We would like to implement a “weather hotline” via toll free numbers routed to a POTS line (or maybe a toll free T1). We would need to IVR to identify which of 6 centers and inside that, which of 3 shifts, playing a message at each layer of the IVR and prompting for a response. An option is to also be connected to the center operator, so we would need the ability to transfer to another phone number.

Thanks for your guidance and direction.

Don Johnson

Yes on both counts. I would recommend starting with this thread to get some background: