A few thoughts about Astricon 2011.
I probably learn more at Astricon than any other conference I attend. That says a lot since I attend about 25 conferences a year. Every conference has its share of selling and dispensing of Kool Aid, but there is a lot less of it at Astricon. Digium is quite unlike its competitors with its approach to community, Digium even invites direct competitors to Astricon to present and exhibit.
Astricon draws a very technical crowd – not only people that are interested in telephony, but people that are interested in shaping telephony – one line of code at a time. With the old Astricon’s that’s all that came – open source code geeks. Now I say this with the utmost respect, those are not normal people. They are very sharp and very technical. It’s a double whammy – voice and programmers, makes a rare and unusual breed. However, today, Astricon draws a more diverse crowd. In addition to the uber-geeks, Switchvox draws resellers. The event also attracts end users, developers, manufacturers, and service providers from around the world. It’s quite impressive really. The exhibit hall was all over the map – top of the line SIP devices next to the super cheap devices. Distributors, voice recording companies, carriers, user groups, gateways, and even alternative PBX systems.
This year Digium had very little to say. It took a day to even spot CEO Danny Windham, he took the stage once, but only to introduce the keynote presenter (from an external company). The update I was looking for – Asterisk SCF – was scheduled for the last session on the last day. The only major announcement at Astericon was the availability of Asterisk 10 would be “sometime soon.” Digium didn’t deliver a single keynote. But don’t conclude that Digium isn’t up to anything. Rumor has it that last minute Digium aborted three major announcements planned for Astricon. Evidently the fruit was just too green to pick this week, but the harvest is coming.
So instead, we attendees made the most of the event by networking. I caught up with Voxeo regarding Rayo and Tropo. I even set up a Voxeo account. I learned about Adhersion and the Asterisk holes it fills. I talked to customers about their experiences, checked out the new phones from Snom, hung out with lots of the VUC crowd, and had some truly intelligent conversation (ok, I was listening) over some meals. Also, I had some quality conversations with Digium staff. The Astricon party this year took place at a nearby bowling alley – closed for the private event. I have to admit as doubtful of the venue, but it rocked. Lots of quality discussions – with an open bar even.
This year the female ratio was much higher than in the past too. Still in single digits percentage wise, but growing. One of them said that Astricon is a great event because there are no lines at the ladies rooms. Colorado brought snow on Day 2, luckily a light travel day. I thought the Westin was a great facility for the event.
For more coverage see my post on NoJitter.com.
Also, check out this Astricon Mvideo with vocals by Digium’s Angie Reed.
Photo credits to VUC and me.