If we had to pick the most significant trend in networking today, the VoIP phenomenon might well top the list. And open source is playing no small part. While enterprises remain reluctant to rip out their tried-and-true PBXes, open source VoIP -- usually in the form of Asterisk -- is capturing business communications one small business or branch office at a time. Sooner or later, enterprises too will catch the open source VoIP bug. The cost savings and flexibility are too compelling to resist.
Asterisk is the clear winner of our Bossie for VoIP telephony. It isn't the only game in town, by any stretch -- there's OpenPBX and FreeSwitch, and other open source VoIP projects abound. But Asterisk is by far the most mature and scalable of the lot, and it's taking the VoIP world by storm. Yes, it’s hideously complex in places, but also immensely configurable, and compatible with darn near everything.
Our other Bossies in the networking space recognize interesting developments in streaming media and directory services, as well as faithful wired and wireless analysis tools. One important category we're skipping -- only until we can get more of the products in for testing -- is enterprise monitoring, where vendors such as Zenoss and Hyperic are really heating things up (see the sidebar, "Best of open source in enterprise monitoring").
Our Bossie for streaming media goes to Azureus Vuze. Azureus, the BitTorrent (p-to-p file transfer network) client that doubles as the poster app for Java, has gotten a makeover in Version 3.0 that carries it into the realm of streaming media. Azureus Vuze isn't streaming media as we know it now, where our computers typically receive content one file at a time, from a single server, with terrible handling of interrupted connections and speeds capped by the content's host. Azureus Vuze brings the many-to-many magic of the BitTorrent swarm to content sharing. Your download speed is determined by your bandwidth, the number of people who already have the content you want (even a small piece of it), and your willingness to share what you've downloaded. It's all free and open source, and Azureus Vuze is completely automated.