Automatically populate phone directories w/central data?

I am doing an evaluation for our company between more expensive IP phone systems (ShoreTel, Cisco) against an Asterisk based system.

The only major feature that seems to be lacking from the Asterisk setup is some way to automatically populate the desk phones with the master company directory. All the phones we’ve looking at have various flavors of the directory/contacts list function, but all of them appear to require the end user to enter all the extension info by hand. The closed systems all seem to do this automatically.

Of the phones we’ve tried I am most interested in solving this for the Polycom 501 phone, that is the front-runner for us.

Lacking an automatic server->phone path, is there any way to enter all the data on one phone and copy that to all the other / all new extensions?


Hi Innerloop,

I am posting the contents of a private email I got when I emailed the author of a post I found on a forum. I was searching for the same info. The credit belongs to Anthony Rodgers. We were discussing Polycom IP501 phones.

"When they boot up, the phones will look for -directory.xml in the FTP or TFTP folder from which they get their configuration file.
If that file does not exist, the phone will then look for 000000000000-directory.xml.

The files are XML files, and the spec can be found in the Poly SIP Administration Guide, which can be downloaded from the Polycom website,1454,pw-26-482-10533,FF.html

Couple of gotchas - the phone will only ever load 000000000000-directory.xml once - once it has a directory on board, it will never look at 000000000000-directory.xml again. Also, updating the directory is a two-stage process - you first need to ‘reset’ the phone’s directory by deleting its -directory.xml file, rebooting it so it thinks it has no directory and then rebooting the phone again after placing an updated -directory.xml file back in the folder.

You should know that, for a number of reasons, we have actually since decided not to proceed with a centrally administered directory, in favor of allowing users to manage their own directories.

Hope this helps!"

Me: What caused you to move away from a corporate directory, constant updates?

Anthony: “It was partly the updates, but mostly the interest on the part of most users in being able to manage their own directories and thence their speed dial settings”