Sure, true fanatics are familiar with Asterisk -- the open source IP telephony platform. But there are some clear signs that Asterisk is pushing beyond the open source crowd and gaining momentum within small and midsize businesses. Here are several announcements and events The VAR Guy is tracking. He thinks it's time for solutions providers to jump in.

Indeed, Digium, Simicomm and Switchvox all have made significant Asterisk announcements in recent days. And three major Asterisk events are approaching in September and October. At first glance, the Asterisk market is dominated by its chief backer -- Digium -- much in the way that Red Hat leads the corporate Linux market. But take a closer look, and you'll see a range of hardware, software and service providers building out the Asterisk ecosystem.

For instance, Switchvox, which develops Asterisk-based systems for small and mid-size customers, has hired Lee W. Miller as its director of sales. Insiders at the company say Miller will lead Switchvox's ongoing channel expansion, working directly with partners and customers. He's a veteran of Samsung Telecom and Toshiba Telecom.

Meanwhile, Simicomm is leveraging Asterisk for its EasySpeak phone system, which small business VARs can install in 15 minutes or less, the company claims. Simicomm is also embracing Snom, a Germany-based maker of IP phones that has a growing following in the Asterisk market.

Of course, Digium isn't standing still. The market leader has just announced a new appliance for two to 50 users.

What's next? Watch for a flurry of Asterisk-related announcements at Astricon (Sept. 24-28, Phoenix), Ohio LiuxFest (Sept. 29) and Digium AsteriskWorld (Oct. 30-31, Boston). In the open source world, Asterisk is old news. But there's still time for VARs to move into the Asterisk market before the IP telephony platform becomes a commodity in small business.