Asterisk an under-appreciated Open Source Success Story

Sparked by a recent posting to Dave Farber’s IP list about a Texas university dumping Cisco’s VoIP solution for Asterisk, and Asterisk-maker Digium’s new round of financing, I wrote to Farber’s list myself, extolling O’Reilly’s own switch to Asterisk. The functionality has been great, with voice now just another internet application for us, with new features like voicemail to email forwarding and the like.

I was talking with CJ Rayhill, our CIO, the other day, and she pointed out that when evaluating new PBX alternatives, we’d gotten several $200,000+ proposals for proprietary systems. Asterisk was not only free, the VoIP switch has allowed us to increase our network bandwidth fourfold to accomodate the voice traffic (and more data traffic) yet still save $5000/month.

I’ve been puzzled why there isn’t more focus on asterisk in the open source world, as it seems to me to be one of the really big new open source success stories.

It seems a bit like the early days of things like Perl and Linux, when they were happening under the radar, known to all the hands-on practitioners in the industry, but not covered much by the mainstream press.

Book sales are similar too :-) For the 15 months since it was published, Asterisk: The Future of Telephony has been #12 on our list of O’Reilly bestsellers. So like Perl and Linux before it, Asterisk is getting uptake ahead of its recognition by the mainstream.

Speaking of Asterisk, Mark Spencer, the founder of Digium, will be keynoting at our Emerging Telephony Conference, which will be held February 27-March 1 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott. The early registration discount ends January 8, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to register.