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Digium’s big news: Asterisk Scalable Communications Framework (SCF)

National Harbor, Maryland – Digium (www.digium.com) announced a new open source project today to go beyond the limitations of the company’s Asterisk IP telephony platform, adding a “Scalable Communications Framework” to enable “the highest levels” of availability, scalability, extensibility, fault-tolerance and performance.

Yes, this was/is The Big Deal Digium employees kept hinting at over the past month.

SCF opens up a new universe of possibilities for open source communications – not just telephony, bunkies – developers. And it’s not a replacement for Asterisk, but a new extendable platform.

At AstriCon’s morning keynote, SCF was demoed live in a fault-tolerant configuration. Audience members dialed into one of two “call centers”  with a shared conference bridge and then the power was shut down on one of the call centers. Calls were transparently shunted over to the second set of servers without calls being dropped.  

Asterisk SCF will be available as a system of distributed components that can be mixed and matched, deployed on a single system or a cluster of systems in a transparent fashion.

SCF comes out of long and on-going requests from the Asterisk community to use Asterisk in more and better ways. Fault-tolerance and scalability have long been the dual whacks critics have had against Asterisk, while developers have wanted easier ways to tie in the IP telephony platform into rich media/UC applications, preferably with a variety of software tools.

Rather than re-invent the wheel – and potentially breaking it – Digium and a core of about 20 outside advisory developers decided on a companion product/platform designed from scratch.  To communicate between processes and servers, SCF uses ICE – Internet Communications Engine – another open source project.

Developers looking to work with SCE will have a wide variety of options for programming via APIs and more broadly accessible “extension points” with everything from Java to Windows C# sharp being supported (along with Python, PHP, various other flavors of C, and various other languages that I can’t remember off the top of my head).

There’s more to come with SCF; I talked with Kevin Fleming after his keynote and there’s quite a bit to process between Kevin’s comments and my own thoughts. (Other than how I can’t nail the “Big Announcement” prediction more accurately).

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