Linux-based voicemail messaging catching on

Linux-based messaging systems are catching on. Many users are starting to migrate to Linux-based servers for hosting applications such as e-mail, calendar and collaboration. But another aspect of messaging that is also heating up in Linux land is voicemail and unified messaging.

Many traditional large business telecom vendors have ported their industry-standard brands of voice messaging servers to Linux, while some upstart companies and open source projects are getting into the voice game as well.

Avaya and Nortel, which combined own a large chunk of the U.S. voicemail market, now offer voicemail systems that run on Linux machines. Avaya's Modular Messaging platform runs on a Linux distribution developed at Avaya, and can support up to 20,000 mailboxes. It can also interface with Microsoft and IBM Lotus e-mail servers to combine e-mail and voicemail access into a single client interface.

For smaller shops, Nortel's forthcoming Business Communications Manager (BCM) 50 - set to ship this June - runs on a Linux kernel and supports small offices of up to 50 users. The device is a full-featured IP PBX, running a new Linux distribution developed by Nortel, and includes a voicemail and unified messaging interface for Outlook/Notes integration. The hardware comes in modular pod-like form factor, which allows the devices to be mounted on a wall.

ActiveVoice, though a lesser-known name in corporate voicemail than Avaya or Nortel, also has a Linux-based voice messaging system. The Repartee LX server includes voicemail and an automated attendant feature, and allows users to retrieve voicemail messages from a PC client interface. (The client also integrates with Microsoft Outlook.) The server works with Avaya, Mitel, Nortel and Siemens business telephone systems.

For the open source purists, Asterisk offers a Linux-based voicemail component, along with an entire IP PBX platform for enterprises. The messaging component of Asterisk includes several advanced voicemail features, such as voicemail/e-mail integration as well as a Web client that allows users to check voicemail from any PC with a browser and speakers.

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