During a phone conversation yesterday, a trusted source discussed open source and Linux certification with The VAR Guy. It was an interesting chat, but our resident blogger is looking further down the road and expects Asterisk certification to be the next big trend for VoIP solutions providers. Here's why.

From giants like Dell, Intel and Tech Data to nimble start-ups like Digium and Fonality, plenty of folks are evangelizing Asterisk -- the open source IP PBX. (Shameless plug: Both Digium and Fonality recently landed on The Open Source 50 list, which tracks emerging open source partner programs.)

Digium claims Asterisk was downloaded on the web more than 1.5 million times in 2008. Impressive, but The VAR Guy believes there's a skills gap developing in the IP PBX world. On the one hand, plenty of customers are migrating away from legacy systems and embracing unified communication platforms from Cisco Systems, Microsoft, etc.

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But as Digium, Fonality and others seek to push into small and midsize businesses, they are going to need trained service professionals to assist the effort. Already, Digium is evangelizing its dCAP certification and several other steps to Asterisk consulting success. (Full disclosure: The VAR Guy first learned about dCAP by reading the Snap VoIP Blog.) It's a safe bet more IT training centers will offer courses in Asterisk this year.

The VAR Guy isn't in a position to endorse any specific Asterisk certifications. Plus, he realizes certification doesn't replace the need for hands-on experience. Still, our resident blogger can't ignore his hunch that traditional VoIP VARs will be studying Asterisk pretty extensively this year.

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