Here’s the third installment from the Asterisk Myth Busters series. This one focuses on the dual missions of Digium and the company’s role in sponsoring the Asterisk Open Source Project.
MYTH: Digium is the benevolent sponsor and maintainer of the Asterisk project.
While benevolent has several similar meanings, one is “characterized by goodwill, intended for benefit rather than profit.” Digium currently funds approximately a dozen developers that work almost exclusively on the open source project, processed over 3000 issues in 2007 which resulted in almost 2000 commits to the open source project, and manages and funds a significant infrastructure which facilitates the Asterisk community and provides for maintaining the open source project (asterisk.org, bug tracker, mailing lists, web forums, etc), all of which provides no direct revenue – that all feels pretty benevolent to me.
However, the benevolent sponsorship of the Asterisk open source project is only half of Digium’s mission. The other half is a for-profit entity which hopes to grow and be profitable for their shareholders whose commercial mission is to create products and services that permit the whole world to benefit from Asterisk. Businesses with the in-house technical expertise to utilize the open source project may only need to purchase training to successfully utilize Asterisk – so we offer Asterisk training classes. Others may need hardware products to benefit from the open source project – so we, along with a number of other companies, most of whom do nothing to further the Asterisk project, offer hardware products designed specifically to work with Asterisk. However, a very large number of businesses do not have the in-house skill to utilize the open source project. For this segment of the market we offer pre-packaged solutions based upon the open source project that we sell as a turn-key product. As the for-profit side of Digium grows, so does the corresponding investment in the open source mission. Benevolence also relates to the way the company thinks about the future of the open source project. Using the philosophy of benevolence, Digium strives to make decisions regarding the open source mission that will enable open source Asterisk to be broadly adopted into numerous applications and many market segments across all geographies.
OUTCOME: Confirmed. While there are many individuals and organizations active in the Asterisk Ecosystem, Digium provides the resources to maintain the open source code base.