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Astricon 2006

I’ve spent the last two days at Astricon 2006 in Berlin.  Day 1 was a two track technical session.  Track 1 was an Asterisk for beginners workshop, and Track 2 a developers workshop.

The real action started today.  Mark Spencer kicked the show off with a great overview of Asterisk’s business strategy, clearly explaining the reasons for the Asterisk Business Edition, their commercial edition, and the balancing act their attempting with the open source version as well.  Patrick Deruel gave a presentation on Asterisk on Win32.  He’s got Asterisk running on Win2k, with TAPI support. 

Following the break, Stuart Fenton of Westany gave a great demonstration of the value of professionally recorded voices with Asterisk.  He also had some terrific insights on marketing opportunities within Asterisk — using music on hold for advertising, and so on.

David Zimmer, of Teresto Media, showed how they have built a carrier class switching platform with Asterisk, and SER.  That was a great talk.  He showed how they’ve layered the architecture with user interface, billing, applications, trunking and so on separate.  He also described how they run each individual service on a separate node in the network, using cut down Asteri (plural of Asterisk?) on each node to handle just one function.  Finally, he described an experiment they’ve recently done doing TDM to TDM switching directly.  If this works, then Asterisk could conceivably become a replacement for a traditional telecom switch.

My own presentation went alright.  I used Camtasia before leaving in order to do a screen cap video, which didn’t play very well from within Powerpoint. I had to jump out of it and show it directly.  No big deal. 

I missed Marc Rohlfing’s (OASY AG) Asterisk Reality Check, and the beginning of Anooma CEO’s Stefan WinterMeyer’s “PBX Differences Between the USA and Europe”.  What I saw of Stefan’s talk was not so much differences between the USA and Europe, but rather differences between old PBX users and Asterisk users.  It was a thought provoking talk. 

Following the coffee, David Troy of PopVox, gave us a very informative talk on building large Asterisk systems.  He has now done 4 very large installations, and had some great insights about how to use Asterisk and SER together.  Asterisk’s own Jim Webster then followed with a good overview of the Asterisk Business Edition, talking about the differences between the two.

The final talk of the day, Jared Smith’s talk on Voice Recognition and Text to Speech, was great.  He showed us how, using LumenVox, you could easily create robust voice rec applications.  LumenVox uses grammars described by ABNF to work it’s magic.  Then he used Cepstral to do text to speech, which was also very exciting.  Integrating both of these systems into Asterisk was simply a matter of adding commands to the dialing plan.

Sokol and Associates put on a quality event.  It was small (70 people) but very good quality.  I’ll be at the Paris event on Thursday and Friday of this week, but will have to miss the London event next week.  Hopefully both will be as good as this one.

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