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IBM and 3Com Plan First Internet Telephony Suite 70

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the at-last-I-can-call-my-mother dept.
TechnoGuyRob writes "IBM and 3Com, a company best known for its computer network infrastructure products, are teaming up to provide the world's first IP telephony suite. From the article: 'IBM and 3Com intend to offer the 3Com VCX suite of IP telephony Relevant Products/Services from solutions on IBM's System i business-computing platform... This means clients will be able to run business and telephony applications simultaneously managed by the System i's tools.' The application is intended for the Linux-on-Power operating system; so yes, it will run Linux."
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IBM and 3Com Plan First Internet Telephony Suite

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  • Asterisk? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:55PM (#15054055) Homepage Journal
    the world's first IP telephony suite.

    ...other than Asterisk [asterisk.org], right? Or is this somehow much better?

    • > The world's first IP telephony suite.
      >
      > ...other than Asterisk [asterisk.org], right? Or is this somehow much better?

      It's better because you have to pay IBM consultants for it.

      "IBM Consulting: Or you'll regret that you had only one Asterisk when the boss put you in charge of the company's VOIP rollout!"

    • Re:Asterisk? (Score:2, Informative)

      by necrogram (675897)
      What about Cisco Callmanager? http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6164/index.h tml [cisco.com]
  • Get it right (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by richdun (672214)
    It'll run in Linux, not run Linux. Geez. If you're going to use a tired, old Slashdot joke, at least get it right.

    Also, link an article that actually says something useful. This looks like a press release. It doesn't give any details as to how, where, or even when (and if I had a dollar for every time something on Slashdot was "announced" without a market date and never actually was released, well, I'd buy Slashdot...or something).

  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:10PM (#15054139) Homepage
    Asterisk is a good platform if you don't mind building a whole bunch of business-intelligence tools alongside it in order to get what you need done. Asterisk takes care of what I would consider to be a key, but simple, element of the equation -- converting the audio signals into bits and sending them around.

    For a business to really base itself on an internet telephony platform, they need it hooked into a set of software allowing reporting, processing, etc. In its current incarnation, Asterisk provides a very simple Call Data Record output to ODBC or MySql. That's about it. Beyond that, the programmer has to invoke Perl AGI scripts along the way or make SQL queries from inside Asterisk's clunky extensions.conf configuration language.

    Bottom line is that your business intelligence platform winds up being a bunch of homebrew Perl scripts. Not my idea of a fun time.

    What IBM will put together is a set of tools where you can build the business intelligence platform alongside the PBX functionality that Asterisk makes in a completely integrated fashion, using object oriented tools, etc. Anyone considering building a mission-critical system on Asterisk should read over the extensions.conf file format for a little bit. It uses line numbers and Goto as its major flow control mechanisms. I thought those went out with Commodore 64 BASIC programming.

    It's true that a few big companies use Asterisk. In each case they've had to tweak and rework it dramatically to make it useful. I predict this new system will blow Asterisk away.

    • by kimvette (919543) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:24PM (#15054221) Homepage Journal
      Asterisk [slashdot.org] is too complicated for you to configure? Unable to add the FreePBX web interface [coalescentsystems.ca]? Can't manage to get the Flash Operator Panel [asternic.org] working?

      Let me introduce you to Asterisk@Home [sourceforge.net] which is uber-easy to configure (get your PBX up and running in an hour or two!), or if the "@Home" name is too objectionable for your PHB, the shiny Asterisk@Work [voip-info.org] logo so you can convince him that an open source project is suited for business use.
      • Exactly. Businesses find it very hard to use a bunch of half-baked or half-tested open source add-ons. What they want is a nice shiny package that will do what they need.

        In other words, Asterisk is more like a framework, not a solution. The article summmary says it all: "IBM and 3com Plan First Internet Telephony SUITE".
        • Ok,
          Well that's great for companies that have money to blow. The $40,000 we blew on our Nortel system was not well spent. The system is a piece of junk, runs on os/2, crashes at least once every 2 - 3 months, and randomly drops calls.
          Oh yeah.. and we've maxed out our queues, there is a limit on the number of mailboxes you have, and routing is clunky.

          We're in the process of upgrading to an Asterisk system because... well... because it just does 'everything'.
        • Download Asterisk@Home and try it out. Here is what you'll get:

          - Asterisk with preconfigured scripts typical for most companies (you just need to define the calling plan via a point-and-click interface). You get a call queue monitor (Flash Operator Panel) that puts any conventional PBX ACD monitor to shame, a web interface to voice mail, extremely detailed call logs, (theoretically) unlimited expansion capability, all pre-integrated with a quasi-open-source CRM (SugarCRM).

          Ever set up a conventional
      • That's not what the parent to your post was talking about. He was describing the shortcomings of the extensions.conf language (it sucks), and the need to extend Asterisk with AGI scripts (although I use Python, not Perl). And he's right; Asterisk comes with only very basic business intelligence tools. It's up to you to either script your own, or pay someone to do it for you. Luckily, Asterisk is so flexible and AGI is so easy to use that creating such tools is generally a snap. We have Asterisk doing all ki
      • Read my sig line. I run a phone-based service using the thing. My problem is not that I need handholding. My problem is that for business-level operations, Asterisk can't get the job done without major hacks.
        • You are running a (what sounds like) single queue and you can't figure out how to setup asterisk?!

          Well you are right you DO have some major issues... I called your number... Not only was there an aweful echo, but there was no hold music... what can't figure that out?

          I have asterisk running, no echo, hold music is fine, handeling tons of calls a day.

          Exactly what major 'hacks' did you have to do to get your agents to log into the system, and then do CDR on them and the queue?!

          If you mean you had to program Ag
          • You're dumb.
            • Now Now... be nice. I'd actually consider myself pretty smart when it comes to Asterisk. I personally enjoy the programming that I can do with it and the fact that when it doesn't do something just the way I like it, I can make it do it with a little prodding.
              • He doesn't have a problem (a) setting up Asterisk to do what it was intended to do. He has trouble coaxing to (b) do what it was not intended to do. So an Asterix distro that makes (a) easier doesn't help him with (b).

                While given that Asterix is open source, of course he could do a great deal with programming, up to and including completely rearchitecting the core system if need be. However, for a business this is not necessarily ideal.
      • Your WotC link isn't working.....you have a working link?
    • Uhh.. there is really nothing wrong with line numbers and gotos. If, XYZ, then goto blah@macro-do_this.

      If you can't program Asterisk, you are just a stupid moron who can't read and learn, I'm sorry. Asterisk is a PBX. If you want accounting, load an accounting module. If you are looking to sell PBX systems, presumably once you've built a system or two, you'll know what you need! If you are looking for something for work.. the 'clunky' interface is what makes Asterisk so great! PERL is not clunky.
      • As I told another commenter, my issue is not that I'm a moron and can't code. My problem is that, for anything beyond a basic PBX, Asterisk can't do it without major hacking.

        Believe it or not, some people want to do more with a telephony system than provide a basic PBX system (read my sig-line for an example). For more complex situations, there are things that Asterisk simply cannot do. For example, out of the box Asterisk won't allow me to grab a call back once I've dialed it out without waiting for the

        • Beyond a basic PBX? When we were first checking out Asterisk to see how it worked (we were looking at offering VoIP and now do offer it using Asterisk on the backend), we had a wholesale provider that provides us with dial-up numbers just vanish out of the blue. Of course this resulted in literally hundreds of phone call and our call center was swamped.

          We realized we had a problem.. when I thought... hrmm asterisk!

          About 5 minutes later and 50 lines of code the asterisk system was now routing calls.. If
          • You're offering this extremely simple use case, and I don't really feel like continuing this debate. Suffice it to say, as several other commenters on here have validated, if you want more than just a simple PBX, Asterisk won't do it out of the box.
          • OH! Grab it back as in:

            ME--->Queue
            ME--->Given Number

            You want to pull me back out of the queue? How about just have your operator transfer the call to an extension and punch in a callcode?

            IE: XFER-->201
            "Please enter the call code"
            ENTER: 1123#

            Your call codes wouldn't need to be that long as you could recycle them.
            • No. I send a call out to an external number using Dial() and want to grab it back after an asynchronous event, like a row being updated in a database. How can you do that, eh Mr. Smarty?
              • I think the problem is in your call logic.

                ie:
                LEG1 --> Leg1 Of call
                LEG2 --> The call you are sending out with Dail()

                Why would you need to send the ENTIRE call out the other trunk?

                If you are waiting for someone to answer, have them hit something if they answer, otherwise send it along to another trunk.

                If your 800-411 operators are at their houses, why aren't they using sip phones? If they are using regular phones, and once the operator gets the number you want to grab it back to the asterisk system, ju
      • Hrm, let's see:

        Let's say I'm a telcom manager at a large-ish company. I've got two choices here. On the one hand I've got my long-haired-hippie linux geek telling me that he can totally hack together a system around Asterisk. On the other hand I have a major corporation trying to sell me a product.

        It seems a no-brainer to me. Unless I acquire some sort of obvious advantage (other than cost) why should I bring the development knowledge in house? I'll just end up with some system that's hard to maintain
    • All people talk about is Asterisk. Meanwhile there's the OpenSource solution (even GPL) called Yate [yate.null.ro]; which handles a magnitude larger number of calls than Asterisk on the same hardware, it has the (currently still unique) perfect NAT-proof algorithm for SIP, it has excellent support for H.323, and, last but not least, the company supporting it insists to do paid work only when it results in (new) GPLed code.

      Yate handles business-logic integration just fine with predefined hooks (I used a PostgreSQL back

    • AHEM. You can setup a full blown system using Ruby on Rails + RAGI (Ruby Asterisk Gateway Interface). I created one from scratch and in under a week I had a system that communicated via Jabber, persisted data with Rails, and called people taking some poll information. I did it for my WoW guild so that all the guild members could be notified when one of the green dragons spawned (Lethon, Emeriss, etc). The phone call would ask the user if they would be able to come online, and that information would be t
    • It uses line numbers and Goto as its major flow control mechanisms.

      I am guessing that you do not code. Allmost all languages have line numbers(labels)/goto. More importantly, the major apps(think an OS) make heavy use of these. I can tell you that an *nix use it for error handling. In addition, I have seen the NT code for pre-3.5 NT (working at HP Ft. Collins; MS wanted us to port to the pa-risc; no go after seeing their code). It was loaded with goto's as well.

    • This was invented, coded, utilized and eventually faded away into oblivion by a company named Dynamicsoft back in 1999. However, since Dynamicsoft did not believe in patents and insisted on open standards for everything, as well as targeting massively sized telephony operators that loved to toss them around like a dog's chew toy rather than getting decent money for enterprise solutions, they were eventually purchased by Cisco for penny's on the dollar, just days before the electricity was to be shut off.

      No
  • I didn't think 3Com survive the dot-com-go-busty cycle. What has it been doing since spinning off Palm and not being swallowed up by Cisco?

    On a side note, my first modem was a USR 2400 internal.
  • Tags (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MeanMF (631837) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:15PM (#15054171) Homepage
    "3Com" tag gets filtered out..
  • Not Linux news.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rdean400 (322321) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:17PM (#15054187)
    Read the Information Week article [informationweek.com]. The system already runs on Linux. It's being ported to i5/OS.
    • Never mind. Source article came straight from IBM press release. Information Week read between the lines and came up with something not even there.
      • Information Week read between the lines and came up with something not even there.

        Actually, 3Com VCX system does run on Linux (a RHEL clone, to be more precise). I've been working on it for the last couple of years...

        ZM
  • Ahhh 3com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by matth (22742) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:49PM (#15054348) Homepage
    This remind me of a story a friend of mine told me. He told his company NOT to purchase a 3com VoIP system, but they didn't listen. They had nothing but grief thereafter. The 3com VoIP system would not read line voltages correctly from a Vonage ATA (they were using Vonage for phone lines for some reason). Further, it would not work with 'SIP', as 3com had their own proprietary protocol. It was later found out that 3com firmware had a bug in it that prevented the Vonage line from hanging up. SO they downgraded... then other things broke.

    This is exactly why we are dumping our Nortel phone system for Asterisk. Proprietary stuff is junk! The Nortel crashes, drops calls, is clunky. The ACD monitoring software (Cinphony) REQUIRES that it be run on an IIS server as 'Administrator' rather then the Internet account. When questioned the company said "yeah don't put that server on the outside of your firewall". I said what?! That's not acceptable, you can't run an application as 'administrator'. They said 'well that is how it runs, sorry'.

    Problem is, once you have a large system like that put in for a call center, you can't exactly "just return it". We spent the good part of 2 years fighting the company that put in the Nortel and Cintech (Makers of Cinphony) to get it to work right. To this day it only transfers a call out of a queue to a land-line when it feels like it.

    Oh and don't even get me started about "The routing resources needed for this call are not available" if you have a transfer to an external number from one of the menu trees on the Nortel.... apparently you can only have 1 outbound transfer from a CCR tree?!?!

    This is why I hate proprietary software.... it doesn't work, and they don't support it!
    • Don't get me wrong, I'm for open standards and open platform, but the automatic assumtion of proprietary == bad isnt the way to approach every situation. I'm running a Cisco Callmanger installation, and once i got past the implentation I got no complaints with going with it. So I dont have the source to it... big deal! i still have the level of support I need. Sure I had issues when I first installed the stuff, but you're gonna have that with anything. 90% of my issues was with "its diffrent and not the
      • Re:Ahhh 3com (Score:3, Informative)

        by matth (22742)
        Well that's fine, if you don't mind paying the high cisco TAC fees each year to keep your contract open.
      • Re:Ahhh 3com (Score:3, Informative)

        by biba2 (254865)
        Unfortunatlly everything goes quite well with Cisco if the entire network is only Cisco. We've managed by mistake to convince in several situations Cisco phones (7940) to reboot after a well formatted SIP packet(RFC 3261 compliant) that wasn't in the way Cisco thinks SIP should be.
        I think that free/open software is starting to be backed up by companies that are able to provide the technical support for any kind of issues. A few companies which do that are: Null Team which supports Yate, Digium which support
    • Matt, I was curious as to what Nortel product this was that was crashing.
      • It was/is a Nortel Modular ICS unit with Cinphony ACD software installed. Had 2 PRI cards in it, and I believe 48 phone stations. Also had a nortel norstar voicemail system. Oh yeah, if you click too fast in the webinterface for the voicemail, the entire voicemail system locks up *sigh*.
    • Check out Yate [yate.null.ro], it's open source, and scalable, and is in use in many callcenters in Europe without problems.
      • For all you people touting Yate as a replacement to asterisk, you do realize it doesn't even have transfer and 3 way capability built in don't you?

        http://yate.null.ro/pmwiki/index.php/Main/Transfer s [yate.null.ro]

        Transfering a call and three way calling is listed as a "feature request", I don't know how you can possibly recommend such obviously alpha telephony software.

        I'm not trying to say that Asterisk is the end all be all, its not, and maybe Yate will come up and be a better solution, but right now, without basic PBX
        • Actually these days Yate supports conference, transfer (3 way calling if i remeber correctly is some sort of american conference - since Yate supports conference it also supports this). I'm sorry that the website is a little bit outdated and thank you for letting us know about that problem.
    • The 3com VoIP system would not read line voltages correctly from a Vonage ATA (they were using Vonage for phone lines for some reason). Further, it would not work with 'SIP', as 3com had their own proprietary protocol.
      Ummm... you've got me confused here... why would a SIP based system like 3Com VCX need to read a line voltage off an ATA?

      ZM
  • Monster Mash (Score:2, Informative)

    by blooba (792259)
    So they're using SIP. It should be no problem for someone to package an extremely competetive open source solution.

    Only thing that concerns me concerning competetiveness, are the new fcc telco rules and related pending legislation, the stuff that will make it easy for monsters like IBM and 3com to pay premiums for better ISP service.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is a interesting opensource project started by someguys, we're currently testing it out at work, so far theres no issues. voip suite [sourceforge.net]
  • by jmcharry (608079)
    It is THEIR first telephony suite, perhaps, but not THE first. Reminds me of old AT&T claims about "firsts" things that had debuted elsewhere.

    It did get me to RTFA, which is the purpose of a headline, but it was misleading. The actual article was not particularly interesting.
  • the support costs of a iSeries? Linux might save you a bit for software support, but that harware support, and arm-twisting upgrade schedule will have you pulling your hair.
  • "It will run Linux"? I would rather have "It will run on Linux"?
  • Leave to /. to talk briefly about the content of the article and the solution and focus in on the syntax of the post itself...sheesh. Anyway, enough of that rant.

    3Com was at the Spring COMMON user group conference (for System i) in Minneapolis last week showing this.While at the moment they're running it on an xSeries server, the System i port is forthcoming. I had some time to speak with them about it, and like what I see.

    I have to say this was a really slick solution and as a System i, iSeries bigot, a g

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