In the ultra-competitive world of IP telephony, finding a place as an open source concept is not without challenges. Yet one supporter of open source telephony believes a quote by Mohandas Gandhi is an analogy for what he and his supporters deal with.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” said Simon Ditner, president of the Toronto Asterisk User Group (TAUG). “I would say traditional vendors have stopped ignoring open source telephony. The same things that hold back any new technology are the same ones that open source telephony face: fear of the unknown and vendor support,” he said.

TAUG is betting their product, Asterisk, will have a big impact at this year’s IT360 Conference & Expo in Toronto. The event is produced by IT World Canada and runs from April 30 to May 2.

Asterisk is a free, downloadable open source telephony client. Supported by TAUG, a network of Asterisk users, the organization is incorporating its own user conference into this year’s IT360 program.

Originally created and developed by Huntsville, Ala.-based Digium Inc., Asterisk is an IP private branch exchange system that supports VoIP protocols like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Asterisk’s own Inter-Asterisk eXchange (IAX2).

Ditner said Asterisk requires no vendor lock-in, supports a large number of applications such as call centres and has extensibility to databases and Web sites. He also said the product’s growth is due to increasing demands for more scalability and interoperability between voice applications.

“There had been huge information voids up to this point in time surrounding telephony. Barely anyone knew what PBXs were, or how they worked inside, or how much they could be customised and tuned if you were allowed,” he said.

“For decades, (other) companies have had a stranglehold on the industry, championing their own proprietary solutions that were completely incompatible with any other vendor’s hardware. It’s difficult to imagine that such an industry still exists today when right beside it in every com