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Skype terminates support for Asterisk VoIP PBX

Skype has ended its long partnership with open-source Digium Asterisk VoIP PBX, subsequently terminating Skype for Asterisk, which integrated the VOIP service with the open-source telephony platform.

After Microsoft announced that it would acquire Skype, the popular VoIP provider has begun distancing itself with open-sourced. Asterisk was the first to go.

Digium said today in a letter to its users, Skype decided not to renew its agreement with them, which allowed Asterisk, the open-source telephony system, to be integrated with the Skype service. Digium is the company behind most of the development on Asterisk and sells commercial products based on Asterisk. Skype for Asterisk utilizes some proprietary code from Digium to connect the two.

According to the letter, "It includes proprietary software from Skype that allows Asterisk to integrate into the Skype network as a native client. Skype has opted not to renew the contract that allows us to package this proprietary software.”

Many businesses across the globe depend on Asterisk for its free and flexible PBX to provide for their VOIP deployments. The integration with Skype allowed low-cost voice and video calls without complex integration.

However, it was announced that old Asterisk users will continue to have support for two more years but after July 26, new Asterisk users will not be able to connect to the Skype network.

Some insiders believed Skype may be moving away from Asterisk because Microsoft is expected to launch a Microsoft-hosted version of its Lync server this coming summer. Asterisk competes directly with Microsoft’s unified communications server.

Danny Windham, Digium’s CEO, wrote on the company blog that after Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, he predicted that Microsoft may shield Skype from competing products. He also said that Microsoft’s tendency toward notorious proprietary tactics will slow Skype’s development as a business tool.

However, Tim Panton, a Skype developer, pointed out that Skype for Asterisk has been having problems with scalability and maintenance. Skype had burdened the product with a number of license restrictions and Digium delayed development, Panton said.  “Skype probably never imagine renewing, so when it came due, they just pulled the plug,” Panton added.

Dave Michels, president of Verge1 Consulting, specializing in PBX strategies, noted that it was unlikely Microsoft was calling the shots when the deal hadn’t even closed yet. He also pointed out that while Asterisk is open source, Skype is not.

Michels said claiming Microsoft will ruin Skype because of its anti-open-source attitude is nonsense. Skype uses its own VoIP clients, its own audio and video codecs, its own signaling and its own firmware licensed to hardware partners. The service does not interface with any other networks or equipment other than basic voice services, he said.