What do you do for an encore when your first Asterisk-only conference attracts four times the expected audience? Astricon organizers Olle E. Johansson and Steve Sokol have an answer: Do it again, in Spain.
When Olle E. Johansson and Steve Sokol opened the doors to the first Astricon conference last year in Atlanta, GA, they were both surprised and a bit overwhelmed with the overflow of fans of Asterisk who showed up.
Now the two are feverishly planning the second annual conference focusing exclusively on the popular Linux-based open-source PBX, scheduled June 15-17 in Madrid, Spain. This time, they're ready for the crowd.
Nearly 500 attended the September, 2004, Astricon — more than four times the 120 or so Johansson and Sokol expected. Sokol says the pair's goal is to draw at least 650 to Madrid.
In the free-wheeling and rapidly expanding Asterisk universe, he explains, AstriCon serves an important purpose: connecting the myriad of “VARs, consultants, developers, resellers, interconnect vendors, moms, pops, and others around the globe” that are key to the PBX's success.
“Asterisk PBX is selling all over the world, but it's not being sold by big organizations which have established channels and easy to reach points of contact,” said Sokol. “At this point in time there is no easy, direct way to touch the ‘Asterisk Channel.’ AstriCon fills that gap very nicely.”
The three day conference is designed to meet a wide spectrum of needs — from Asterisk neophytes to experienced developers.
“Astricon Turorials,” scheduled for Day 1, offers three separate tracks: an introduction for new users, an intermediate-level session on configuration options, and an advanced session for carriers and call centers. Session leaders include John Todd, whose well-distributed sample Asterisk configuration files have contributed to the PBX's wide deployment, James Thompson, who maintains the popular Asterisk-focused wiki at voip-info.org, and other Asterisk “gurus” such as Brian K. West and Josh Robertson.
Day 2's session will feature several keynote speakers — including Asterisk creator Mark Spencer — on Asterisk and open-source telephony. Breakout sessions give participants the opportunity to discuss ways of integrating Asterisk into other business applications, such as billing, as well as opportunities to build new businesses on the Asterisk foundation.
A Developers Summit is the featured event on Day 3. The discussion will include future Asterisk enhancements as well as processes and procedures for managing these enhancements.
An exhibition running throughout most of the conference gives hardware, software and service vendors an opportunity to connect with the Asterisk community.
Sokol says that the Madrid location was chosen because it was one of the few European facilities designed to accommodate the anticipated conference size — under 1,000 but more than 500 — in a single location.
“There's a strong European Asterisk community,” said Sokol. “And it seems to be pretty excited about Asterisk coming to town.”