Afternoons With sipXecs

Two weeks ago I contracted the cloud-based telephony bug and found myself experimenting with sipXecs, SIPfoundry’s 100% SIP communications system.

I only advanced so far: just enough to visit and push the buttons on the sipXecs web-based configurator before I ran into a brick wall called DNS.

Translation: without an Internet phone book to look up addresses, I couldn’t register a SIP phone and actually use this thing

Figuring that it would be good for my soul, I decided to spend a few lunch hours last week learning just enough DNS to set up a cloud-based sipXecs system that actually was usable.

I assumed that this effort would reward itself in spiritual IT and SIP wisdom.

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A Peek at Cloud Telephony: SIPfoundry’s sipXecs

My curiosity got the better of me.  While I’m completely content to use turn-key cloud telephony–OnSIP, in my case—the lure of DIY telecom is sometimes too enticing to resist.

This led me to SIPfoundry’s sipXecs, an open-source PBX that many are using instead of an on-premises metal-based solution.

SIPfoundry has grand goals for open VoIP solutions. They are an independent non-profit that hopes to promote “free and unencumbered” telephony. Which is another way of saying their sipXecs PBX software is 100% standards based. So if enough companies, small and large, install sipXecs on their servers, we can all communicate via SIP over the Internet and not pay a dime in per minute charges.

I thought I’d experiment with sipXecs to see what all the shouting was about.Continue reading

OnSIP’s Free Click-to-Call Plugin

I was about ready to launch into a new assignment for a client when some news concerning OnSIP, the cloud-based PBX service, attracted my wandering attention. The folks at Junction Networks have just introduced an OnSIP browser plugin for Firefox and Chrome that lets you perform a click-to-call. While this new feature is not technically very sexy, it is a big deal for the small businesses that are the likely customers of OnSIP’s virtual PBX.

Once upon a time, SMBs were practically indentured to their hardware vendors, who made them pay (and still do) for every little feature. This free click-to-call function from OnSIP is typically classified by enterprise PBX makers under a marketing-speak category called Unified Communications or Desktop Telephony. Having tried a few of these types of apps, I can attest that they were difficult to configure and even more painful  to use.

I was able to install the OnSIP plugin on my MacBook Pro in under a minute, and then launched an X-Lite softphone to act as my virtual endpoint.

I achieved Unified Communications with little effort and no expense.Continue reading

And one more thing … SIP

I have been writing lately about my experiences setting up several unified communications applications, most recently one involving an open government project with hosted service provider Tropo. The projects were cell-phone centric, and assumed I would be issuing commands into my aged Samsung model while I was managing other activities—driving, drinking coffee while driving, etc.

I do engage with larger devices, and with my new MacBook Pro I am now evolving a nomadic lifestyle. In between appointments, I’ll pitch camp at Starbucks or another WiFi friendly oasis and fit in a few licks of work before I pack up.Continue reading