Monday, May 05, 2008

An Open Letter To The Asterisk Community

The email below was posted to the ast-user mailing list this morning. If you have an interest in Voip or in developing applications for the asterisk community please join us on this call next Friday on the 9th of May.


Hi Randy,

As discussed on Friday the 9th of May I would like to host this weeks Voip Users Conference Call.

The purpose of this call is to discuss the community’s feelings about an Asterisk 3rd party developed commercial software sales licensing platform.

The plan is that some form of documented published schema be implemented that will allow for 3rd party software developers to sell their software applications using a common licensing model similar to the way G729 licenses are sold by Digium.

Basically this discussion came about for a 3rd party ecosystem question a few weeks ago when Cory Andrews from VoIP supply was on the Voip-Users conference call.I asked the question - how much of VoIP Supply revenue is product hardware versus applications - he said we don’t sell any services such as ITSP hosted Asterisk so I replied that wasn't what I was thinking of and gave the example of Snap Dialer which is a low cost (I paid $20 for it) application which allows me to dial names from Outlook.

He said they didn’t sell any applications like this at all but would consider selling them if this was an opportunity presented to him.I then talked about some of the consulting I did for and how they have built an entire ecosystem of third party applications all built by other people apart from but utilizing the documented API's and application security /licensing etc.

My comments were that although Asterisk should always remain a free open source application that developers need to eat and pay rent as well.If there was some common marketplace that developers could sell small - low cost third party applications to the Asterisk community that Digium had some type of overview/management control over who listed etc that this would deliver a stream of revenue that would encourage further application development.

The question I then posed to the group was if anyone knew how Digium managed the sale and licensing of the G729 codes.And if this was an open published standard that could it be used as the basis for the Asterisk ecosystem license model.

Now I know it's not perfect and can be hacked but everything can be hacked. The idea is to build apps cheap enough that it's not worth the effort of hacking. If anyone has some alternative suggestions on how apps should be licensed we’d like to hear them this Friday.

I know there were discussions in the early days of the Mexuar launch about how they could license a single channel of the Mexuar Corraleta application rather than the entire server license for $2000. The issue always came down to how we could license it to 1/ a single channel license. 2/ tied to a single machine and not transferable (currently the Mexuar license is hard coded in the application to the servers IP address).

I know for me personally although I have donated to numerous bounty requests (I even tried to get one developed for video conferencing a few years ago that was around the $10,000 range) I haven’t seen the ongoing continual development that would benefit the Asterisk community.

I personally would be more than happy to pay for ‘the next generation of FOP’, it was a great application when launched but there is a lot more it could be offering.

I’d also like to implement a far smarter ‘user dashboard’ similar to what Druid are developing.

Now I no longer work for Mexuar and don’t have access to it anymore I’d also like to pay for a single channel Mexuar license rather than using ‘lesser quality’ experiences by other solutions.

Drawing on my own now defunct project – is the Asterisk user community now ready for centrally provided services such as the ‘off-deck processing’ like the Tellme Speech Recognition Service .
As demonstrated by Amazon EC2 / S3 web services I’m a huge fan of cloud computing off-deck processing, Should these style services also be able to take advantage of an Asterisk 3rd party ecosystem licensing model.

So the suggested topics to cover this Friday (9th of May at 12pm est usa) is this;

1/ Should commercial software applications like SNAP Dialer even be encouraged for the Asterisk community – or is this the slippery slope?

2/ Should this license schema model be centrally managed by Digium – what are the alternatives?

3/ Is a centrally managed approval process like i-tunes appropriate for the Asterisk user community or should it just be a ‘published document schema’ but all sales are handled by each individual company (separate sales is my preference but it should be at least discussed).

4/ Is the G729 model an appropriate solution (my understanding is it is tied to NIC addresses) – are there alternatives that should be considered instead, what are the limitations of NIC licensing over server IP address etc, how does this affect client applications running on ‘client’ machines. Hopefully someone from Digium will join us on the call to explain how the G729 license system works.

5/ What type of applications would you like to see licensed via this 3rd party ecosystem model.

6/ What do we do from here? Is this something Digium should be developing internally and present to the Asterisk community as a ‘suggested working model’?
Is this something that can be developed by the community and presented to Digium for their approval and adoption?
Who on this call wants to be involved and what do you want to do from here?
Please understand that I’m interested in initiating these discussions just as an Asterisk user. Neither I nor Cognation Pty Ltd have any commercial interests in 1/ running this ecosystem 2/ consulting to or making any commercial benefit in driving this project forward. It’s really come about as I as an Asterisk end user would like to see more funds being made available for Asterisk application developers so we can continue to build the greatest voip technology in the world and while it’s pretty cool now I feel that ongoing application development isn’t occurring as fast as it should be.

This call will begin at 12pm est usa time – for those of you who have not dialed in before the details are below.

Talkshoe Web page details:

PSTN: (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 22622
SIP: exten => 1234, 1,Dial(SIP/...@, 60, D(22622# ${MY_PIN} #) ) If you have no PIN use 1# instead. (remove any spaces in the line above)

IRC: Follow chatter or ask questions on IRC on #voip-users-conference

For those of you who have never participated before make this your chance to get involved, download the talkshoe chat application in advance or even better go and listen to some of the previous 80 calls archived in mp3 format here

Dean Collins

P.S. Angenda slide deck is embedded here:


Turns out to have been a concept a lot of people were interested in, probably a long way from actually coming off but the outcome of the call was that yes a 3rd party ecosystem for Asterisk software was something the community wanted and yes they were happy with the concepts put forward.

here is the audio of that conference call.

No comments:

Post a Comment