I’m going through the process of moving away from AAH to raw installs at the minute. I’ve had AAH running for a 3 - 5 user environment for a few months and it’s been a great introduction.
It’s a top bit of kit that is especially invaluable to someone like me with little to none telephony knowledge. One of the hurdles it has helped me overcome is the terminology (I should have known better than to underestimate the importance of knowing what everyone else was saying :-).
It’s a nice way to get your hands dirty while having a helping hand in the background to make sure it all runs smoothly. So I would say start off with AAH to get up and running with an insight into the abilities that * can offer. The big advantage of AAH is you pretty much have a guaranteed clean install (barring any hardware issues which in 6 months I’ve not come across).
You may find, as I have that once AAH has been in use for a while the work environment will start to take an interest and make requests for additional services. This is probably the point where you will want to look into raw installs to make sure you get what you want.
This is where having worked with AAH will really come into it’s own, because you may need that confidence check that it all really does work. I’m speaking from personal experience as a Linux user of only a couple of years and an * user of only a few months, but the raw install can be a bloody nightmare.
I’ve been through a few versions of Linux, even more on-line install documents and have used language that’d make a navvie blush. But…
…a lot of that was my own fault which could have been avoided by sitting down and planning out what I wanted to do and taking the easier paths first, EG. Would choosing Digium hardware over Sangoma have made for an easier first time PRI install?(I now believe that it would, but that said I’m a dab hand at setting up the Sangoma cards, after a few days constant work discovering what I’d messed up).
Ultimately I worked through all that I could and the places where I couldn’t I turned to the forum. I have to say that I’m a member of a fair few forums for various technologies and I have never come across one like this with such a strong technical knowledge available and and an unreserved willingness to help.
In summary I’d recommend the following
Install AAH and play around with it (Make heavy use of the Nerd Vittles site for inspiration)
Take the time to read through the * documentation (If you haven’t already)
Keep an eye on the forum
I doubt it’ll be long before you want to do things with * that will move it outside the AAH arena, write out a plan of exactly what you want, what you think you’ll need to achieve it and how you believe you can move it forward.
I’d personally go with Digium hardware. This isn’t a slur on anyone else’s kit (The Sangoma is giving me superb performance) but the install process is a lot simpler for initial set-ups.
Make lots of notes as you go along
Be confident that if you get stalled at any point someone on here will know the answer (I’ve been amazed at some of the things these guys know and are happy to take the time to work others through (If you ask in the right way that is. I’ve noticed that help is there for those who are happy enough to get their hands dirty working through error logs, trying out different configs etc)
Give something back on the forums.
Apologies for the long-winded reply and for any ‘teaching you to suck eggs’ parts. I’ve written this not only in reply to your question but also as an answer which i could have done with a fair months ago.