Is Asterisk for me?

We are looking at replacing our phone system(s) with a VoIP solution in the next 3-6 months. We have about 15 locations. Currently 4 of them have separate phone systems. Our main location has about 30 phones, two others have about that same number and another has about 60. All four of those building have or will have 10Mb fiber ethernet connections with the main building. There is a 10Mb fiber connection at the main building to the internet that all of our locations share. The other facilities just have 2-3 phones and maybe a fax machine each. Most of those are connected to the main building through VPN over cable internet connection. All of our bigger locations have switches that provide QoS and PoE.

I am the IT guy and have only limited experience with phone systems. Right now I just do basic maintenance on them. I have some experience with linux; I have built firewalls and spam filter/email gateways with it. The closest place that I can find that specializes in the service of Asterisk systems is 300 miles away. I am willing to learn what I need to know to maintain an Asterisk System and I’m sure the people I work for would be willing to send to me to whatever training is needed. I’m guessing that even with 8K worth of training, that an asterisk system will be less expensive that one of the proprietary VoIP systems that are available. Is that a reasonable assumption?

I’m thinking that we’ll want some kind of distributed system to handle all the traffic and to add a level of redundancy. What I have read so far is that doing that is somewhat complicated. Would the training that digium offers enable me to expertly install and maintain such a system? Will an Asterisk system be as robust and reliable as a proprietary VoIP system from one of the big manufacturers? Can any VoIP system be expected to deliver the same level of service as a traditional PBX/phone system?

I apologize for the n00b questions. I thought that some of the answers I am seeking would require a considerable amount of research and I didn’t want to invest too much when someone here surely has the answers on the top of their head. If no one sees a reason for me to shy away from Asterisk I swear I’ll do the work before I come around asking these kinds of questions again.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Perhaps, this Asterisk: The Future of Telephony, 2nd Edition (click to download) e-book will now be the closest place you can get. :wink:

I just started reading it. I’m really hoping Asterisk will work for us. Were a non-profit healthcare organization with a pretty limited IT budget, so I like to make sure I’m spending it wisely when they do let me spend some.

redundancy for what ? in case the system goes down?

if you are using an e3 or t1 line maybe you can put an extra card in you safe otherwise i don’t see the point for need of redundancy you can build a system disk that repairs your complete sytem after a crash. i have serveral systems running over 4 years now and nothing happend to them they just keep on goin you could configure 2 systems when it crashes just put the other on in. your current PBX is probably also not redundant?

Asterisk is for everyone.