As managed services providers (MSPs) consider outsourced help desk options, here's a new spin on the conversation: There's a new 24 x 7 help desk for service providers that focuses on Asterisk -- the increasingly popular IP PBX platform. Here's the background for MSPs that are pushing into VoIP and unified communications, but may need some extra support.

First, the big picture: Asterisk is an open source IP PBX platform, promoted by Digium and a range of channel partners. Similar to how Linux disrupted the operating system market, Asterisk is starting to disrupt the traditional PBX and unified communications markets. During recent MSP- and channel-centric partner summits -- particularly SMB Nation Fall and the N-able Partner Summit -- I heard multiple attendees describe how they were selling IP phones tied to Asterisk telephony systems.

But how can MSPs support those solutions? Certainly, some MSPs have the in-house expertise to support Asterisk customers. But for those who don't, a Digium partner called Intuittech Sdn. Bhd. has launched a global Asterisk support center. The help desk is named membantu24 (the Indonesian word for help/assist/support). Intuittech says the service is designed for integrators and end-users, offering 24x7 global support on "all things Asterisk." The call center has worldwide local dial-in numbers, and Intuitech has offices in Malaysia and New York.

I'm curious to see if membantu24 gains a channel following. I hear strong buzz for Asterisk -- but is it a niche solution or has Asterisk really gone mainstream? I think membantu24's help desk efforts may solve that riddle. And assuming the help desk offers quality service, it could help MSPs to bolster their own unified communications and VoIP strategies.

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