Sooo… I’ve got my boss to seriously consider Asterisk. However, there’s a few things I’m worried about. We absolutely depend on our phone system, it’s how we serve our customers. I would hate to have it down every now and then, or things not working.
I don’t know alot about Asterisk, VoIP, SIP, etc. but, I’m very good at keeping up with current technologies, and I know alot about Linux.
Is there a way I could “test” Asterisk out without having to buy anything? Are there any companies that would send me a trial SIP phone?
Is Asterisk@Home the best way to go about this all since I’m new to it?
get the oreilly book, read it cover to cover, and you will be well on your way.
Well VOIP solutions are dependent on your network.
If you do not have a decent network then I would not deploy a VOIP solution.
You need to make sure your network supports QOS and VLANs, this usually means all managed switches, NO 8 port Netgear switches
Many people have problems with VOIP and blame the technology, instead of their own implementation.
The other posts did not say this but the answer to your question is yes. You can test asterisk in many ways without having to spend a dime. That is if you a) already have a machine running Linux or FreeBSD or some kind of *nix, b) you have a fast connection to the Internet.
You will undoubtly want to eventually spend some cash on a real IP phone but X-Lite and IDEFISK work great and they are free.
You will also eventually want to have an PSTN provider but there are services like FWDNET and others that are free. You just won’t be able to call your friends and family over the PSTN until you do.
You will also eventually want to install some FXO/FXS card(s) or an ATA device.
BUT you don’t need any of this $$$ crap to test *. I did not spend a dime until I got comfortable with installing and configuring *. Once I got to this part I bought a cheap IP phone and subscribed to an PSTN provider and have been having a blast with it since.
As for your business setup, you’ll want to be careful. When, not if, your Internet connection or power supply goes down, you will loose your phone connection to the world. There are ways around this but this gets expensive and you’ll need expertise to maintain it. When it gets to this point, most businesses fall back on the old reliable telcos. You give up control this way but you’re almost always going to have phones for your customers to call. Moving from conventional telco service to strict VOIP is dangerous for business that depends on customers for its cash flow. So test exhaustively and transition slowly and only when you’re sure your ready.