Saturday, June 9, 2007

Just what is open source telephony?

Asterisk(r) is the defacto standard and leader in open source telephony. There are imitators who always want to be considered in the same breath as Digium's Genuine Asterisk(tm). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Published under the GPL V2, Asterisk has mullions of downloads. You see, is THE open source site for the technically astute and is maintained by Digium(r), the creator and primary maintainer of Asterisk software but is populated by the worlds greatest community of developers, contributors and interested parties . Others build their own distribution of this same open source Asterisk, insert their software in or around Asterisk (call them company A) and call it their own asterisk solution. Upon analysis, this now means Digium's Asterisk installed base is downloaded from and the Asterisk installed base is Digium's plus company A. Digium is in a unique position where all open source Asterisk-based products are really Asterisk-based contributing to Asterisk's installed base, and Digium creates their own commercial offerings and others create their own Asterisk-based offering. They include Switchvox, Intuitive Voice, Fonality, Trixbox (does use open source, but I believe do not make source code available) and literally dozens of others worldwide. These are ALL based on Asterisk. Some folks modify Asterisk and include it in their distribution and resale of their solution. But do not lose sight of the fact that these are only possible with Asterisk. BUT here is the CATCH: THEY are NOT open source products - they are open source BASED products. They offer CLOSED PROPRIETARY solutions that give customers the benefits of open source such as low cost, fast feature development, flexibility but these products are closed. This subtly goes unnoticed by some folks who blog, are analysts, press and even venture capitalists.

Digium continues to lead the way in open source maintaining Asterisk, managing and hosting the Developers Conference, driving Asterisk everywhere possible to enable the ecosystem to grow and flourish. Digium removes the barriers to entry for new companies to enter the ecosystem and if they have a great idea, they can benefit and provide benefits to business customers.

Digium knows for a fact over 2 million servers are running asterisk today. There are a couple of other million we know about from competitors boasting of their downloads that encapsulate a version of Asterisk in their distribution. That makes over 4 million known servers. If one assumes an average of even 5 users per server, which is very conservative number, that means we know of at least 20 million users running on Asterisk.

Now it gets better. We can find about 200 service providers globally that offer IAX and SIP VoIP service. Why does this matter? IAX and IAX2 IS Asterisk! Make no mistakes, some of these service providers handle millions of calls and minutes per month. Digium will publish some data from some of the partners shortly, but these numbers are incredible.

With Digium's new Asterisk Appliance(tm), many service providers will offer a customized version of the appliance running Asterisk Business Edition, Digium's commercial and fully supported software, to offer businesses the best of both worlds: Open source + fully supported + SIP and/or IAX trunking to provide cost effective interoperable connections and service.

Yes folks, Asterisk is permeating the world. The ecosystem is growing. If you are not yet familiar with Asterisk, it's time to investigate. Not a Linux guru? Download AsteriskNOW (tm) a free distribution that can get you started.

I hope this helps clarify a bit about Asterisk, Digium, the Asterisk Community, the Ecosystem, offers based on Asterisk, and if you visit Astricon ( and Digium Asterisk World ( at VON later this year, you can learn a lot more!

1 comment:

Get a Toll Free Number said...

Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I've really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.