Anything that says “Open Source” is thought to be freely available, customizable and really exciting for many software users. (Specially people from India who are very price competitive, but I am sure Open source software sounds tempting to people all over the world!) Open Source alternative for any popular application software has almost become a industry practice and specialised Software, IVR too followed the same with some CTI vendors providing open source IVR platform for developers.
Thus Asterisk has almost become synonymous with Open Source IVR as well as Telephony Systems. Many companies have developed numerous Telephony solutions based on Asterisk.
While Open Source has many backers and takers, a newbie may still be confused when to choose Open Source
IVR or Telephony Application! First let us look at what one saves by using Open Source Telephony platform :-
A typical IVR System consists of the following components:-
1. Application Software ( IVR Call Flow)
2. Operating System/ Database
3. CTI Cards
4. PC or Server
By using Open Source Telephony platform, one saves #1 and #2 above! But is it a significant saving for you in the long term ?
1. According to me, one should choose Open Source if a company has spare manpower who is proficient in Linux and good in Linux based programming Languages. Many start up companies where the founders are normally engineers with programming background may choose Open Source IVR as they would be able to maintain the IVR without any extra cost! But for a company which may have to dedicate one or two manpower to develop and maintain the IVR systems, it may not be beneficial at all, in the long run!
2. Another advantage of choosing Open Source IVR is, the CTI cards seem to be less costlier than the CTI cards which have APIs. It is majorly because of the fact that, these CTI boards use host PC’s computing resources and does not have on-board DSPs to perform all those telephony signalling, audio processing. So if one is really constrained by budget, one may choose Open Source Telephony platform.
Some people are die hard fans of Linux and Open Source. For them, it is natural to choose Open Source IVR. But they should consider few things below :-
Other than Traditional Open Source ( Linux OS + Asterisk or FreePBX), there are IVR toolkits too available which provide the Toolkit free of cost and charges just per channel licenses at deployment! For example, VBVoice IVR Toolkit is freely downloadable along with 2 channel free license!
Apart from this kind of “offline” Tool kit, now a days, almost every company provides IVR in Cloud! Here anyone can design an IVR in a visual tool online and use as per usage!
Hope this may help how and when to choose an open source IVR!