Kerio Technologies Launches New Asterisk-based IP-PBX

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Kerio Technologies Launches New Asterisk-based IP-PBX

Keriokerio-operator-box-appliance-1210.jpg Technologies, a company established in 1997, is launching a new Asterisk-based PBX today. They are announcing Kerio Operator 1.1, an IP-PBX that is designed to be easy-to-use and targeting the SMB space. Kerio Technologies has 180 employees and is best known as a Microsoft Exchange Server alternative. I spoke with Kerio Technologies last week to find out more about this Asterisk-based offering.

They explained that Kerio Operator 1.1 features integrated security, including protection against SIP password guessing and can block IP addresses that fail SIP authentication automatically based on criteria you specify. Kerio also told me they support auto-provisioning of Polycom, snom, Linksys, and Cisco phones. They're currently working on adding auto-provisioning for Aastra phones. According to Kerio Technologies, "The key to Kerio Operator 1.1’s simplicity for administrators is the intuitive web-based GUI, which has advanced drag and drop capabilities for interface configuration, contextual help, and a configuration assistant. As with other Kerio products, the system can be configured and managed remotely from within an Internet browser."

Kerio Operator 1.1 is available as both a software appliance or hardware box. One key feature is that you can have multiple SIP registrations to the same extension. Thus, your desktop phone, softphone client on your laptop, and a SIP softphone on your mobile phone, such as CounterPath's Bria, can all register to the IP-PBX simultaneously.

Check out the user-friendly Admin UI: [click for larger view]

Other key features include:

•    SIP password guessing protection – As previously mentioned, it enhances safety by blocking an IP after a specified number of login attempts.
•    Detection of anomalous behavior – The IT administrator can set “rules” for normal call routines to monitor behavior of the phone system. He is automatically alerted when calls are made outside of these rules (such as extensive international calls) and can address the situation quickly.
•    Email and voicemail integration – Integration with Kerio Connect allows users to access, listen or delete voicemails through their email inbox.
•    Auto-provisioning – Automatic “plug-and-play” phone setup eliminates the hassle of configuring new phones to the network. Many popular phones are supported, including Cisco, Linksys, Snom and  Polycom.
•    Auto-attendant – Meet the new receptionist who can speak almost any language and works 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Caller will always get a response to their call and can easily navigate through the attendant menus or by directly dialing the extension or name of the called person.
•    Personal Ring Groups – One extension can be assigned to multiple phones. Incoming calls will ring on an office desktop phone, smartphone and softphone client installed in your computer so calls are never missed.
•    Improved NAT Support – Enables businesses to securely deploy Kerio Operator 1.1 in the public network with phones behind a firewall, or conversely, position Kerio Operator 1.1 on the private network and have some of the phones on the Internet.

Here's the web-based user portal UI:

Kerio Operator 1.1 is available as a software appliance, with its own security-hardened operating system, as well as a VMware virtual appliance. Kerio’s standalone hardware appliance, the Kerio Operator Box, is available in select countries and comes in two models: the slim desktop Kerio Operator Box 1210, which handles up to 40 concurrent calls, and the 1U rack-mountable Kerio Operator Box 3210, which supports up to 150 concurrent calls. Kerio Operator Box 3210 can be built-to-order with a Digium TE122 T1/E1 or Digium B410 Euro ISDN hardware expansion card.

I asked which version of Asterisk they are running and interestingly they're running v1.4 and not v1.6 or v1.8. "We are currently on version 1.4 which was the most stable version available when we began development. We will be migrating to 1.8 as soon as our development roadmap allows, which should be in the near future." I know others have built their product offering off of v1.4 and haven't moved to v1.6 or v1.8, Fonality's trixbox Pro being at least one.

Kerio Operator 1.1 pricing starts at $600 for a 5-user server license. The Kerio Operator Box 1210 with a 20-user license is priced at $2,000 USD and the 3210 with a 40-user license is priced at $3,000 USD. Additional user licenses are at $24 each.

There are many flavors of Asterisk, so it'll be interesting to see if Kerio making Asterisk easier to manage and setup is a compelling reason to choose their solution over competitors. I think you have to look at their target market for this product. It is not Asterisk fans who know how to download a flavor of Asterisk for free (Asterisk, AsteriskNOW, trixbox, Incredible PBX, etc.) and set it up... but rather they are targeting their large channel (5,000 partners), including VARs, who want something simple to use and manage.

Switchvox, a paid Asterisk product sold by Digium might be a more suitable comparison. I ran the numbers and it looks like Switchvox costs significantly more, but they also offer their Web 2.0 mashup applications, which integrate with SugarCRM, Google Maps, and more. Thus, it has more advanced functionality that merits a premium. For cost-conscious SMBs that don't need advanced functionality like that, Kerio is certainly worth a look.

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