What is Asterisk - AstriCon 2010 Opens
October 26, 2010
What is Asterisk? That’s the question – among others – that Jared Smith, Fedora project leader at Red Hat (News - Alert), kicked off AstriCon 2010 answering. In the opening session, called Asterisk 1-2-3, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, Smith addressed a full room (click here for images from the opening session) with selected portions of Digium’s (News - Alert) Asterisk training content.
The initial discussion was about defining Asterisk, the brain child of Mark Spencer (News - Alert), whose vision was that not only was telephony too expensive, but also not flexible enough. To address those shortcomings, he concluded that if he could get the calls into the PC, the possibilities would be nearly limitless.
The growth of VoIP over the past decade, including Asterisk, bears that out – there are more than two million Asterisk servers in production today.
A decade ago, the PBX (News - Alert) was a large, bulky box in the phone closet that most people did their best to avoid going near. Today, it’s nothing more than a server like any other. A decade ago, your handset choices were typically limited to those provided by your PBX vendor. Today, thanks to open standards, like SIP, businesses can choose their favorite handsets to work with their PBX.
But even more importantly, today’s PBXs are more than just dumb boxes. Rather, they introduce advanced logic into your communications systems, making the routing and IVR functions that were costly and difficulty to deploy a decade ago trivial.
“The PBX is now just another box in your data center,” says Smith. “But, Asterisk is much more than just your PBX – it is a program, a toolkit, a platform, a product, a project, a company, and more.”
The key takeaway from the initial session – for novices and experience Asterisk users – is that Asterisk is a stable platform, now 11 years old, upon which other communications capabilities and features care built.
“Imagine it as a bucket of LEGO blocks,” explains Smith. “You get to choose which blocks you use and how you put them together. “
Currently. Smith says there are more than 170 blocks, or modules, available for users and developers to create advanced communications solutions. The code is primarily handled by 15-20 lead developers, who integrate feedback from hundreds of occasional contributors and thousands of users who test, report bugs, and write new code – all of who have helped contribute to the growth of Asterisk and the recognition of open source as a viable competitor to traditional PBX vendors.Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask