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The best Asterisk is a boring Asterisk

Digium founder Mark Spencer got up in Toronto a couple of days ago and gave a speech in which he said that Asterisk was “boring”.  Applications are where the action is these days, said Mark.  I’m sure someone on the Digium PR team must have burst an aneurysm over this one.  It’s definitely not “on message” for the founder of a company to call its flagship technology boring.

But you know, Mark’s right.  Not only that, Asterisk as a boring technology is the best possible outcome for the industry.  Windows is boring too!  (Note to Mac Fanboi’s — the Mac is definitely not boring.  I just want to make that clear.) The point is this — when the platform ceases to be the story, the real end user innovation can start.  Let me repeat that: when the platform ceases to be the story, the real end user innovation can start.

The best part?  There are even a few folks in some of those older telecom companies — from the telecom industry’s cretaceous period, if you will — that understand this too.  A couple of years ago I had dinner in San Jose with the CTO of an unnamed sauro-PBX manufacturer, who confided in me that the best thing that had happened to the industry in years was Asterisk.  Why?  Because the faster that Asterisk commoditized the call control layer in his company, the faster they could get on to doing the exciting stuff — the applications.

So yeah, Asterisk is boring.  And we should all love it for that reason.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Dean Collins April 13, 2008, 9:22 am

    Hi Alec,

    Coming from the ‘commercial side’ of the Asterisk commmunity rather than the coding side I’ve been a long time proponent to making Asterisk available to everyone; not just those who know how to code raw conf files in Vi (If you didn’t understand that then you weren’t welcome in the Asterisk community 3 or so years ago).

    I recently came across a ZDnet article on the cogoblue asterisk appliance that was launched last week.


    Not commenting on the article or the appliance.

    But just wanted to highlight that it’s good to see asterisk vendors reaching out beyond the usual geek marketing areas. Yes ZDnet has a tech focus but it’s pretty mainstream, so should be reaching an audience not currently being reached.

    Lol – though nothing is going to top the Forbes article about Mark Spencer that was printed in http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0410/063.html

    Half of their readers wouldn’t even know what a PABX actually is.

    The cool part of the asterisk technology is this. By buying a lowcost appliance or reusing an old outdated server (my personal asterisk server runs on an old 1ghz p3) you can implement the latest and great functionality in voip and all the features you want like voicemail to email or sms alerts when you miss a call etc.

    Have a play, you’ll be surprised how quickly your office cant live without it.


    Dean Collins

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