The notice from my friend Dan York that he will be giving a keynote at Astricon, (the annual get together for Asterisk geeks), on Open Source And The Global Disruption Of Telecom – got me thinking…. Is there a future for Asterisk?
Many of you may never have heard of Asterisk, the popular open source phone system, but chances are that you have used a phone system based on Asterisk. If the voice of Allison Smith sounds familiar – you have used Asterisk!
Created in 1999 by Mark Spencer who could not afford to buy a phone system for his business (so he built one), has become the most popular software based phone system in the world with over a million downloads! Nothing talks like success, and Asterisk was definitely revolutionary at the time. A whole new world opened with the proliferation of Asterisk and the surrounding eco-system. No longer did you need to but an expensive proprietary phone system for your business. All you needed was an old computer and you were set to go.
On the other hand, Asterisk code is complicated, and requires a high level of expertise to fully enjoy its benefits. Over the years programs such as FreePBX have been written to ease the pain for the rest of us, but these programs also have the downside of complicating the code even more.
Asterisk was born in an age of stand alone computers and software delivered on disks. So the question needs to be asked is Asterisk still relevant when our computer services are accessed thru the browser and the computer is only as strong as the network it is connected to?!?
Just to make myself clear, I am very appreciative of what the developers of Asterisk have down and we have even built a couple of businesses based on Asterisk systems. But, I do think it is time to ask after 16 years – What is Next? Can Asterisk adapt to the new computing landscape and if so – how? How does Asterisk compete with open source web services for telephony like Plivo, Restcomm etc. ???
As someone who is involved in both Asterisk based service providers (The Flat Planet Phone Company, Omega Telecom, Newtel Systems) and a nextgen web based service provider (Fone.do), this is a question which intrigues me.
Astricon 2015 would be a great time to discuss this question. I will be there part of the time and would be happy to talk with you!