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Asterisk - A Disruptive Force in IP Communications

Asterisk - A Disruptive Force in IP Communications

January 07, 2010
By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

If you’ve been following the open source community at all, you will know the momentum that has grown in the space, largely supported by the efforts of the Digium (News - Alert)-led Asterisk community. The reasons are many, but as Digium CEO Danny Windham noted as Astricon 2010 back in October, the recessionary economy forced many businesses to consider alternative telephony solutions in an effort to reduce costs, leading many of them, including larger enterprises and government entities, to discover open source.

“In 2009, the entire world economy melted, which has proven to be very beneficial for Asterisk (News - Alert),” Windham said. “The downturn has forced people to consider costs much more closely, creating a major opportunity for Asterisk, Digium, and its developer and partner community.”
In fact, new developers are joining the Asterisk community at a rate of nearly 60 percent annually, and the open source adoption rate in some countries is approaching 80 percent. This growth, including downloads having increased by 33 percent over the past year, is a result of the maturation of the Asterisk code, now a decade old, and scalability questions having been addressed, with instances of more than 10,000 channels running simultaneously on a single Asterisk server.
With this growth in mind, I took the opportunity to ask Digium’s vice president of product management Bill Miller a few questions about the past year and what ITEXPO (News - Alert) and the collocated Digium|Asterisk World have in store for attendees in Miami.
EL:          What are your reflections of 2009, at best, a challenging year for most businesses, yet one that brought success to many in the telecom industry?
BM:        What a year, and one unlike any other ever seen. With failures of larger established players, market consolidations, anxious customers and channels awaiting the flushing or fleshing (depending on your perspective) out of the revised product lines, and the emergence new and alternative solutions picking up tremendous momentum (such as Digium’s Switchvox SMB IP PBX), the year brought constant change.
EL:          What is/are the most significant trend(s) to come out of 2009 that will drive the IP Communications space into the next decade?
BM:        Mobility and use of personal and consumer mobile devices for business, the emergence of applications riding on top of open source telephony engines, a new generation of very attractively priced HD and multimedia color desk phones, and the ability for more secure and open collaboration will continue to drive adoption of new solutions. Buyers of these solutions spend money to make money, save money, increase productivity and allow for better flexibility.
EL:          Will 2010 be the year HD audio takes off? If not, when?
BM:        HD audio is well on its way, and 2010 will see more choices. We have seen the emergence of attractively priced mid-range IP handsets and expect to see higher quality, lower cost handsets with more functionality to continue to roll out with increasing competition, lowering price points for businesses.
EL:          How do you view the impact of the growth of the open source community on the overall communications industry?
BM:        Open Source continues to be disruptive to traditional market leaders. Many have already adopted open source in various stages, selected to certify their phones with open source, and are trying to find ways to ride the wave without hurting, but complementing, their own lines of business. The open source model and licensing model make it a challenge for traditional players to compete and continue to gouge business users’ financially.
EL:          How will your company build on the momentum of the past decade to continue on a growth path into 2010 and beyond? What new and innovative products are in store for your customers?
BM:        Everyone should attend Danny Windham’s keynote. Danny will discuss the past decade of Asterisk and he may have some surprises to share. (Note: Danny’s keynote will take place at 9:45am on Thursday, January 21, 2010.)
EL:          What is the most important reason your booth is a “must visit” for ITEXPO attendees?
BM:        Digium’s booth is the centerpiece of the Digium|Asterisk World pavilion for open source Asterisk, where end users, resellers, and integrators will see the reasons for open source momentum and growth. The presentation theater in the pavilion is a “must see” where visitors can rest their feet, all while learning all about Asterisk, open source, and some of the best new ideas in the industry from experts, exhibitors and sponsors.
EL:          What are you looking forward to most at ITEXPO East 2010?
BM:        Digium|Asterisk World, the trade show inside a trade show, which is now collocated with ITEXPO, has received unprecedented interest – with the booth space selling out quickly, even after the number of booths was expanded due to demand. We are looking forward to record numbers of resellers, already-converted end users, as well as those end users who we hope are soon-to-be-converted to Asterisk open source based solutions. In the recovering economy, we have strong momentum coming into ITEXPO and, now that many companies have seen and experienced the value, power and flexibility of open source VoIP, we look forward to continued rapid acceptance and adoption. 
EL:          What is the one product you are hoping to see from the communications industry in 2010?
BM:        “There’s an app for that” TMC Style: Would like to see TMC create an iPhone (News - Alert) app that enables users to access mobile screens from the TMCNet communities. Search capabilities, small screen formats, easy to (a) find solutions (b) find info about ITEXPO and events like Digium|Asterisk World, access to blogs and all sorts of features. Maybe facilitate discussions between users and TMCnet sponsors.
To find out the absolute latest from the Digium and the Asterisk community – including information on several big announcements Digium will be making at ITEXPO in Miami – stop by booth D-01 on the exhibit floor. The schedule for the Digium|Asterisk World Theater can be found here.

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

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