by April 1, 2009 0 comments



In any organization, employees usea number of communication channels such as
phone, email, fax and chat to communicate with their customers or associates.
But if all these channels are not integarted, then it causes loss of
productivity. You will also find it difficult to maintain all these separate
channels. However, if all these communication channels are integrated, then it
will be easier to maintain. Elastix is one such solution, where you have a
single interface for maintaining all existing communication channels of your
organization. Also for the employees, there is a single window for
sending/receiving e-mail, fax and making phone calls. Apart from this, Elastix
also has a chat server and SugarCRM integrated within it. Hence it becomes easy
to keep track of all communication that is happening in your organization. Now
let’s see how you can deploy Elastix in your organization for getting things
organized.

Installing Elastix
Installation of Elastix is pretty easy as its ISO is based on CentOS 5 and
hence the installation is similar to that. For installing Elastix, download the
ISO which is about 500 MB from www.elastix.org and burn it on CD. Boot any
machine with the help of Elastix CD and follow the onscreen instructions. The
minimum hardware requirement for Elastix is a500MHz CPU, 256MB RAM along with a
network card. In case you want to use the IPBX feature of Elastix, then you need
to have at least one port FXO card.

Under the PBX >
Conference option, Elastix provides the option of building virtual
conference rooms for you organization.
After the
installation of Elastix, make sure all the hardware including FXO card is
detected. This card is required to make PSTN calls.

Using Elastix Administration
Open Internet Explorer from any computer which is connected to the same
subnet, and type out IP address of the Elastix machine. As the login page
appears, provide the username as ‘admin’ and password ‘palosanto’ and click on
‘Submit’. It is recommended that you change the default password once you login.

After you have logged in, the dashboard of Elastix will appear. It shows an
overview of every communication channels you have access to, such as voicemails,
emails, faxes, calendar, calls and system info. Now let’s create new users in
it, delete and change their user settings (especially passwords).

Managing Users
For creating users in Elastix, navigate to system tab and then click on
‘User Management’ . Now click on ‘User’ option from the left panel and then
click on ‘Create new User’ button. Now provide the login name for the user, full
name, password, and in the group option select ‘Extensions’. For the time being,
leave the Extension option. Provide the same details in the ‘Mail Profile’. This
will create web mail account for the user. In the Webmail domain, provide the
domain name for name-of-my-organization.com. Once the details are filled up,
click on ‘Save’ and the user is created.

For editing the user details such as password or group, go to system > user
management and click on the user in the left panel. Click on the login name of
the user you want to edit the settings for. Next click on the ‘Edit’ button and
this opens up the user details in edit mode. After the changes are done, click
on ‘Apply Changes’ and the changes are saved. For deleting any user, just click
on the ‘Delete’ button beside ‘Edit’ button.

Configuring PBX
The PBX solution that is integrated to Elastix is a Free PBX. Details of how
to configure free PBX have already been discussed in earlier issues of our
magazine. For details, please visit the link: http://pcquest.ciol.com/content/handson/2007/
1070403 04.asp.

The ‘text to wav’
feature under extras>text to wav helps in creating custom voice greetings
for you IP-PBX.
Elastix provides
the option of backup, which is very important part. You can backup all you
configuration files, databases, emails, etc.

Once the PBX is configured it is the time to assign extension numbers to each
user. Create a new extension in the free PBX, navigate to system > user
management and click on the user option on the left panel. Now select the login
name to which you want to assign the extension and click on ‘Edit’ button. In
the extension dropdown option, select the extension you want to add to the user
and then click on ‘Apply Changes’.

Configuring Fax
The best thing about this is that you can receive and send faxes from your
desktop. That means you have no extra cost for printing fax documents. Apart
from that, the management of fax documents becomes easier, as they can be saved
to a document management solution.

For configuring fax, first navigate to system > configuration PBX >
Extensions and create a new IAX2 extension. For creating new IAX2 extension,
choose ‘Generic IAX2 Device’ from Device options and then click on ‘Submit’.
After that, provide the user extension, display name, secret and then click on
‘Submit’. Now click on fax tab and click on new virtual fax. Provide the
necessary details such as, virtual fax name, email address, extension of the fax
i.e. the extension that you have just created, the secret number, country and
area code, and click on ‘Save’. Finally your fax is configured.

Configuring Mail
Usually apart from phone, people do opt mailing as an option to communicate
for any queries. Hence mailing becomes a very crucial part of your communication
channel.

For configuring mail, you first need to configur the domain. To create a
domain, navigate to Email and then select Domains, provide a domain name (for
example somedomain.com) and click on ‘Save’. Next you have to create user mail
accounts. For this, navigate to email > accounts, and then click on ‘Create
Account’ button. Now provide the email address such as ‘myname’, then specify
the quota for the user and password. Now click on ‘Save’ and user mail account
is created. It is recommended that the email address should be same as that of
Elastix username. And your mail configuration is complete.

Added to this, you can also set mail relay server under the email > relay
option, plus you also have an anti-spam solution built into it.

Configuring IM
For configuring IM, click on IM tab, first time it will automatically start
the setup process for IM. Now select the language of your choice and click on
‘Continue’. Next it asks for server setting, check the setting and click on
‘Continue’. In the database setting, choose the database setting you want
embedded database HSQLDB or MYSQL. Click on ‘Continue’; from the profile
settings, select default and click on ‘Continue’. Next specify the admin email
ID, password and click on ‘Continue’ to finish the configuration.

User Login
Once Elastix is configured, it’s time to login using user credentials and
see what and how can we use the features of Elastix. For logging in to Elastix,
open any web browser from system that is on the same subnet and type the IP
address of the Elastix system. Now provide the username, password and click on
‘Submit’. It directly takes you the user desktop, which is pretty much similar
to the admin dashboard.

The dashboard consists of the call you have missed, voicemails, emails,
calendar, faxes and system information i.e. how much quota is assigned to you,
used, etc. Under the PBX settings, you can view all the voicemail that is
received by you within specified date range. You can also narrow down the list
by changing the range of dates in the start and end date text box.

Apart from usual
features, Elastix also provides users with ‘Calendar’ option, for managing
appointments and task.
When the user logs
in, he is directed to the dashboard where he can see list of emails, calls
etc in respective frames.

For sending email, navigate to the ‘Email tab’ then click on ‘Create a new
message’ icon. Then specify the recipient address, subject and then write the
body.

Once that is done, click on the ‘Send the message now’ icon and the mail will
be sent to the specified email ID. For IM, you need to install an IM client
probably Pidgen will do. For configuring it, add a new account and specify the
username and password, and elastix server IP.

For making VoIP call, you need to have a softphone installed on you system.
Download setup file for Ekiga which is a softphone from www.ekiga.org. Once the
setup file gets downloaded, double click on the setup file and follow the
onscreen instruction. After installation, open Ekiga and under the connection
setting, specify the extension you will be using along with password for
connecting to Elastix. Once the connection is established, just dial number as
you would dial in normal analogue phone.

Apart from all these good features you have a option call ‘Agenda’, under
which you have ‘address book’ which lets you view all the contacts and add
contacts. There is a calendar which allows you to manage events. For adding a
new event click on ‘add event’ provide a subject name, date, description, event
type and etc. Apart from these, it also provide the option to schedule reminder
call to you and to the attendees. Under the recording option, you can record any
announcement and upload it for later or immediate use.

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