the myIT blog

sipXecs 4.6 is here!

If you are phone geeks like us, you might want to visit the SIPFoundry project and see what's new.  We use version 4.4 internally, and are testing the newer, shinier, leaner 4.6 version. sipXecs is a drop in replacement PBX for people who need VOIP feature sets. It scales and is aimed at enterprise users (not really a good choice for a home enthusiast pbx geek). It requires strong fundamental skills in networking and DNS. It scales to hundreds or thousands of users per node given the proper hardware, because it is a stateless proxy.

  • What's really new to the user in the upcoming 4.6 version:
  • It has the ability to define the voicemail attachment type as wav (standard) or mp3! This includes auto recorded conferences.
  • Faxes can be received paperless (like in 4.4) but now have the ability to define the attachment type as PDF instead of just TIFF.
  • No longer uses Gravatar links for the user address book, but can link to an external image, even your gravatar account and you can put in Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Xing stuff in your address book to share your information with internal staff.
What's new under the hood? Lots! Almost everything, actually.
  • There is a new configuration engine. This engine uses a lot less in the way of resources in a large environment. When you made a change to a user or group, the system would have projected over a dozen files for the user, even if a single file was the only one that changed. Now with the new configuration engine, the system is only writing the actual changes. When you made a change to a group of 1,000 users, it could have impacted performance while those files were projected, then replicated to a HA (High Availability, think cluster but in a role based fail-over sort of way) system.
  • Speaking of HA, HA file syncs now use MongoDB. This is a wise, lean and mean database system and is only used for certain aspects of the system, Postgres is still used for the main user/device configuration/system database.
  • How Apache is installed is a bit more straightforward, using the regular apache config and no longer using secure port 8443, etc. This makes it easier for tinkerers of XHTML or other PBX hosted webpages (telephone directories, production status pages in factory environments and the like) to use the existing apache server instead of installing yet another one to serve timy pages that are not heavily used. It also makes it easier for being able to provide proxy access to the user portal for more elaborate network needs.
  • It likes to role play. Not trying to be cute, it's trying to fit the mold you need it to fit though. Now when you build a new system, it asks you "how" it is to be used. It makes it simpler to move three or four systems into place for registrar/proxy and other telephony functions and lets you centralize your voicemail/media services onto a totally different system.   Note: There are differences in HA and what functions are available between the Open Source and commercial product (eZuce), and before you get too deep into it, we suggest you read up and figure out what is best for your needs.
  • FreeSWITCH is still used as only the media server engine for sipXecs, but its role is expanded, as it is the engine that plays greetings, records voicemails, mixes audio conferences, and the like. It is also receiving faxes (paperless), with a separate function in sipx taking those and putting these different communications (media) into the appropriate or chosen format and sending them where they need to go. So that's not really different in 4.6, so what's new? New Call Center - Previous versions of sipx used a huntgroup or its own ACD/Callagent call handling system for inbound call center-like capability. Out with the old, in with the new using the OpenACD project. OpenACD uses a recipe-like functionality (if the skillset is "english" then send the call to agent "x" if agent "x" is logged in to accept calls). OpenACD leverages and runs on top of FreeSWITCH and is configured through the slick sipXconfig admin GUI without the need to edit config files by hand or have to do much to get the calls handled in a basic way. This is great for the common helpdesk, support agent or inbound marketing call center scenario. The OpenACD project is small, but the core developers are pretty astute and have the product being supported in a few expensive systems and its a very active albeit, small project. Please note, the implementation method behind OpenACD (because it sits on top of FreeSWITCH) makes it very potent with very little code, which is why I say "little". It's a very good example of doing more with less and being very exact in the way it uses resources to be efficient.
  • Configuration management - the webgui has been reworked and things have moved around a lot, but nothing is really that much different for the experienced admin, so it's just a few more clicks to find something that moved from one spot in the menu systems to another. You will find the grouping of the menu to be be consistent with the new role based model too.

Gosh its fun being a geek with new toys!