Sangoma recently announced that Astricon 2023 will be co-located with ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale. Here’s their exact announcement:

With tremendous excitement, we officially announce the return of an in-person AstriCon. We will ease into the in-person event by co-locating AstriCon at ITEXPO on February 13-17, 2023, in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The longest-running open source convention, AstriCon, celebrates open source projects featuring Asterisk and FreePBX. The event will include two tracks, sessions, and an EXPO hall. AstriCon offers various levels of education sessions and provides attendees networking opportunities with some of the best in the open source community.

Sessions in the past have included topics on Security, tutorials, case studies, and growing your business with open source. In addition, WebRTC, speech technology, how to build scalable and resilient solutions, and other related open source projects such as Kamailio, Homer, and OpenSIPS.

Sangoma, the world’s largest provider of open source communications solutions, Asterisk, and FreePBX, will open the Call for Speakers in late June. We look forward to seeing our community members face-to-face and meeting new fans of open source.

My first reaction is that isn’t Astricon… it’s what we used to call Asterisk World; and it was a very, very, very different experience than Astricon.

This said, it’s a great thing to see planning for an in-person Astricon and I certainly look forward to being there (hopefully as a speaker).

Background

I went to my first Astricon a little more than 15 years ago. I was still “new” to Asterisk and was hoping to meet more people using Asterisk as well as learn as much as I could. I was somewhat active in the Asterisk Users Conference (later by demand of Digium renamed to the VoIP Users Conference / vuc.me) and thought meeting people in person would be great.

TL;DR: It was.

I loved the event. Being around a conference specifically to work with an open source project is great. Ideas shared. Concepts discussed. Problems solved. Friendships made.

Astricon was my first real step into the open source voip community, and this community has become so very important to me.

I loved knowing I’d see people “next year” (or at Cluecon, Kamailio World, etc) and cemented long lasting relationships. I’ve been a regular attendee; only skipping a few years when the Mrs. and I started the bakery (RIP Bearkery).

I’ve been honored to present as well as moderate at Astricon.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

When Sangoma acquired Digium a few years back, I was hopeful that things like Astricon (as well as the openness of the Asterisk project) would continue. As time went on, many of us started to have concerns.

I’ve detailed some of the concerns here: Sangoma Doesn’t Get Open Source

A few weeks after I posted that article, Dan Jenkins and I had the opportunity to sit down with Bill Wignall and talk about Sangoma and Open Source. It was a great conversation (and Astricon) and I wrote some detailed thoughts here: Astricon 2019 thoughts.

Since that discussion, some changes have occurred, including:

  • no in-person conferences due to Covid
  • Jared Smith no longer working with Sangoma
  • layoffs / acquisitions

ITEXPO?

I’ve been going to ITEXPO for years… only missing the recent ones because of Covid.

It’s an extremely different conference than Astricon.

When I first attended, it was as part of Asterisk World which was killed shortly after the Sangoma acquisition (and around the same time Sangoma made that horrible decision to axe David Duffett). ITEXPO is very much a business oriented event; which is great of course… but is very different than Astricon. Asterisk World was the same way. Very commercial – you wouldn’t describe it as a community event whatsoever.

Current Thoughts

My read is that people like Bill think co-locating is fine because of the business aspects of ITEXPO. Great for deals, drinks, etc. especially if you don’t care about presentations.

The community loves the centricity of a hotel or location and topic based conference. Meeting people. Gaining knowledge. Making connections.

ITEXPO will be especially rough for those that don’t have the greatest social skills, are shy (or introverted, etc), and this is a decent amount of the normal Astricon audience. (Until new people start to make connections.)

I think if it weren’t for the connections I made at that first Astricon I wouldn’t be in the open source voip community today.

As I was when Sangoma first acquired Digium, I will be hopeful. I’ll put in a presentation (or two) and come with a smile and open mind. But this said, not even consulting the community / regular attendees really conflicts with the commitment Bill expressed to Dan and me back in 2019.

PS. Heading to ITEXPO this year? I’ll be the guy still wearing a mask. =)