Monday, 23 March 2009

Wowa Skype now offering SaaS Skype to SIP gateway

I just spotted this gem: Skype is adding SIP as a connectivity method for calls to the PBX, now a this is interesting as a number of SIP to IP-PBX implementation are already appearing outside of the "official" skype framework. In fact in previous posts I mentioned my SIP/Skype gateway I got running based on the VoiceGear Connect gateway, not to mention Skype's work already announced and in Beta with Digium for the Skype channel driver.

Let see what happens next, I guess the main advantage your own on Premise Skype gateway has is the advantage that the SIP trunk is local and under your control, whilst the Skype (encrypted) calls are passed through the perimeter, where as the Skype SaaS version just announced has to extend your SIP interface unsecured outside the enterprise.

New Asterisk Appliance for the lab

The kind People at PIKA Tech have shipped me their latest Asterisk appliance, which supports Analogue (FXO and FXS) and ISDN 2e (BRI) cards. It's based on Asterisk and the Digium Asterisk GUI, with recent support for FreePBX available (

The package arrived in a very neat box with an additional box containing a 4 port BRI (8-channels), a 4 port FXO card and 4 port FXS card.
The picture above shows the intial unpacking stage of the main appliance. In the main box is the appliance, power supply (external mains transformer with EU and UK power leads), Cat5e cable and a rather curious serial lead with some ribbon cable attached (later I discovered this was for connecting to the internal serial port to connect to the console). The box also includes a rather neat little branded screw driver, which I initially looked at then put to one side thinking that's neat - not sure what that's for?

Like all engineers I didn't look for any installation manual or user guide, I just went straight for the unpack everything, figure out where it goes later strategy.
At this point I want to confess to being a FreePBX and Asterisk tinkerer and I also build my own Appliances based on the PIAF and Trixbox builds using MBX chassis with Solid state disks. So I was very excited to see what could be done with some real appliance engineering in a low power genuine solid state appliance for small offices. The appliance I put together are for up to 4xE1 (120 channels) 150 Extensions and 120 concurrent calls - but you pay the price for this size. The PIKA appliance fits the smaller office install around75 phones and 32 concurrent calls.

My next post will take you through the fun of setting this little baby up in my lab.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wowha what happened to the last 3 months?

So best laid plans and all.. I was going to spend sometime this new year building loads of cool VoIP and IM cost saving projects - but the day job kinda got in the way. So what's new and what's really been going on in my head around cost savings and VoIP for businesses in the economic downturn?

Well I have actually completed one project in my lab - A skype to SIP gateway is now up and running. Wey-hey! Actually really cool for quite a few reasons:
  • My Asterisk PBX now talks Skype, so as a small business I'm now always online, well virtually anyway. My Aeonvista skype account can be connected to my PBX which customers, friends and family can now skype me for a VoIP call and my PBX can do all that clever find-me follow-me routing and even play and IVR message or leave a voicemail, which can be emailed to me anywhere.
  • My Oracle Contact Centre Anywhere application can now call out and receive incoming calls from Skype, so I can do agent based routing and screen pop for calls coming in over skype.
  • For Site to Site traffic I also have a cool NAT savy, encrypted, VoIP VPN.
  • For travelling when I would have used my IAX softphone to get through those double NAT Hotel hotspots to phone home for free, I can now just use skype, call my family on the house phone without needing a PC at home turned on or them all crammed around the laptop.
  • My OpenFire IM server which has and Asterisk plug - now has a Skype plug-in, without having a Skype plugin if you follow, at least for VoIP calls, no IM sessions. But its a start.
Been working closely with the CCA product for a couple of customers and been on a full time contract - so been a little strapped for time.

Also been tinkering around the edges of IPv6 on my Vyatta router. I now have a 16-bit subnet of IPv6 address space - Hmm not sure what I'm gonna do with that yet, but can at least play with some OSPF v3 and MP-BGP set-up to get my head around IPv6. Also I've not got the version 5 release of the Vyatta software to play with so lots more tinkering to do.

So the Office/Lab is in refurb mode, which was partly caused by a living room redecoration - I know but some how the living room refurb spread to the office. The good news is whilst the lab is down for a little while, I get to install one of these beauties from Kell Systems, This means all my kit keeps cool and quiet.... That means the lab now really is a study which the family can use. Now for the wide screen Flat panel TV and AV set-up in there and we're getting there.

So at least one of the ideas for cost saving got off the ground - Skype to SIP gateway that seems to work pretty well and has some other side effects in my lab.