The other day, someone wrote me an email asking me to explaining how StarPound’s platform compared to Asterisk. After I replied, it occurred to me that it might be worth taking a moment to blog about this topic.
First, if you aren’t familiar with Asterisk, it is the leading open-source software PBX and telephony package out in the marketplace. They’ve done a remarkable job in creating something of enormous value. I will go so far as to say I think Asterisk has quickly become an integral part of the open source enterprise stack. Asterisk was created by Mark Spencer of Digium fame.
Asterisk is a telephony engine and toolkit. Meaning you can use it as the underpinning of lots of really cool telephony apps. You can use it as a PBX, a gateway, a media server, and even in call center contexts.
StarPound, while also an engine and toolkit, builds on top of toolkits like Asterisk. StarPound consists of a visual business process modeling tool, and a suite of application servers that allow you to automate those processes. For those processes that need to be “communication-enabled” (see: CEBP at Wikipedia), StarPound’s platform has telephony-related tools that tie into components at the Asterisk level.
StarPound relies upon external telephony engines like Asterisk to provide under-the-hood call control and media serving functionality. Note: We’ve done in-house integration and testing of FreeSwitch, and will be rolling out production support for that platform soon.
On top of all of these components, we have developed a suite of enterprise applications specifically aimed at call centers and enterprise PBX users. These applications are incredible on their own merit, but also serve as great examples of the types of applications that can be built with the StarPound platform. A lot of the confusion comes from people who equate StarPound as a “PBX in the cloud” company solely. They think “PBX in the cloud”, and then immediately think Asterisk.
Even though we have a cloud-based PBX application, we typically don’t host it for individual companies. That isn’t our model – that is the model of Vocalocity and others. We are the type of company that powers another company that wants to be in that space. We’ll have some big announcements to make soon on that …
So the short answer is, we are built on top of telephony toolkits like Asterisk and FreeSwitch, but that is really only a small portion of our overall capabilities. StarPound is more accurately described as a software platform that automates business processes by turning them into web and voice services. In fact, our PBX and call center applications are driven by, guess what? Business process models automated through StarPound! If you want to change something in your PBX or call center, you don’t fiddle with config files – you visually edit the “way” the application is supposed to work – the process model.
A great way to describe it … with StarPound, you model what an application is supposed to do, not necessarily how it is supposed to do it.