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The Asterisk Community Converges upon Glendale for AstriCon 2009

The Asterisk Community Converges upon Glendale for AstriCon 2009

October 12, 2009
By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

Without question, the Asterisk (News - Alert) open source initiative has come into its own as an alternative to more expensive proprietary IP PBX solutions. One of the driving factors is cost, but the flexibility of open source software and the innovation it promotes thanks to its ability to be adapted to any number of unique implementation cases is at least as powerful a proposition.  There are no other solutions that allow as many developers and users to rapidly develop new products and features as the Asterisk platform.

In fact, Digium’s vice president of product management Bill Miller believes the ecosystem that has grown around Asterisk is nothing short of amazing – from formal partners to others who aren’t officially affiliated with Digium at all.
“People imitate Digium, build compatible hardware, create complementary software – integrators of all sizes and skills have created businesses and careers for people – and what’s cool is anyone who wants to can get involved without much cost,” Miller told TMC’s group editorial director in an interview leading up to the annual Asterisk developer conference, AstriCon.
EL:      This year marks the 10th birthday of Asterisk. What has driven its growth over a decade?
BM:     Asterisk was the first open source PBX (News - Alert) and IP telephony platform. It created an unexpected disruption in the market, as technically savvy early adopters used it and started developing applications for it, gaining traction over the years. Now in its 10th year, Asterisk has created a worldwide installed base of hundreds of thousands of servers, has reached the mainstream market and is recognized by enterprises, service providers, users and Tier 1 analysts globally. Digium has achieved a position in the Gartner (News - Alert) Group magic Quadrant for four years running, and the past two in the visionary quadrant!   
EL:      How long have you worked for the company? What changes, if any, have you seen in the way the market uses and views the Asterisk open source telephony platform since you started working for Digium?
BM:     I have been at Digium for three and a half years and have enjoyed it immensely. Asterisk was picking up momentum when I joined, but true metrics were hard to retrieve, especially with some inflated numbers being thrown around. We have seen downloads of Asterisk increase, commercial offerings of many different Asterisk-based products spread widely, a growing ecosystem expand, and the overall maturity of core Asterisk software.
Asterisk is an IP telephony toolkit facilitating a wide range of applications and unlike anything I had worked with before. Being so close to Asterisk, its applications, its growth and its utility have been a great experience that I would not change for anything. Being part of its evolving future will continue to be exciting and challenging.
EL:      How does Asterisk help address IT/telecom departments’ pain points?
BM:     Open source, in general, reduces overall costs while increasing flexibility. Asterisk-based applications and innovation are limitless and it is relatively easy to acquire, learn and apply Asterisk. There are choices for each level of technical competence from grass roots working on code to simple plug and play solutions.
EL:      What is your area of focus at Digium?
BM:     I run product management (which in itself in an open source company is interesting), Digium’s technology partner program, and oversee the Asterisk Community. I am also one of Digium’s social networking enthusiasts actively communicating with customers, partners, channels and interested parties on LinkedIn, Facebook and any one of Digium’s several Twitter accounts.
EL:      How does your work help drive market awareness of Asterisk as an alternative to proprietary solutions?
BM:     In so many ways. First and foremost is the Asterisk Community, perhaps the most important asset behind the Asterisk project. AstriCon is for that community – users, resellers, integrators, developers and enthusiasts from all over the world. I work closely with analysts to help create market metrics, including annual market surveys, to learn and understand our customers and community better.
What is interesting about Asterisk is the global ecosystem it has sprouted. Many are formal partners, but many are not affiliated in any way other than that they download Asterisk. People imitate Digium, build compatible hardware, create complementary software – integrators of all sizes and skills have created businesses and careers for people – and what’s cool is anyone who wants to can get involved without much cost. The Wikipedia method enables many community members to better the project for the good of the telephony world.
EL:      You are speaking at AstriCon 2009 – describe your session and tell our readers why they should attend it.
BM:     I am on an enterprise panel moderated by Eric Krapf, from VoiceCon and TechWeb fame, who is an enterprise VoIP expert. Two enterprise class asterisk integrators, Bryan Johns and Jeronimo Romero are on the panel; they have created, built and implemented several large scale Asterisk-based solutions and will provide a breadth of experience for attendees to gain an advantage from and learn. The session is Wednesday at 1:45 pm, in Solana C/D.
EL:      What else do you expect to see or hear at AstriCon that will be particularly interesting or innovative?
BM:    There are several new speakers and topics this year, the 6th annual AstriCon. Cloud computing, call centers, and larger enterprise-class talks are planned, and the two keynotes from high-profile open source supporters Google (News - Alert) and IBM. There is always a tech track for the highly skilled technical pundits and, for the second year, Michelle Petrone-Fleming will provide a very informative, yet fun, session on proper trademark usage for Asterisk. The third annual innovation awards will be announced by Mark Spencer (News - Alert), an area he is passionate about – innovation with Asterisk.
EL:      Where do you see the Asterisk market in five years?
BM:     On top of the world.  
Follow all the news from  AstriCon 2009, taking place October 13-15 in Glenadale, Ariz., on TMCnet. AstriCon’s mission is to expand awareness and knowledge of Asterisk, the world's leading open source PBX, telephony engine, and telephony applications toolkit, over the course of a three-day conference and exhibition. AstriCon includes a wealth of information for every Asterisk user, whether you are getting started or have already discovered the power of Asterisk.

Erik Linask 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

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