ATCA proponents look to open up software features

-October 18, 2007

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Proponents of the Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture platform are pressing for new initiatives to woo more large telecom OEMs to open standards.

Motorola's embedded communications computing group, in particular, is touting the adoption of an open-source implementation of the Service Availability Forum's Application Interface Spec.

Motorola's ATCA group, soon to be sold to Emerson Electric, was touting "OpenSAF Foundation as a means of providing a high-availability software environment based on SAF work.

Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Hewlett-Packard Co. are among the independent third parties supporting OpenSAF.

ATCA and its smaller form-factor cousin, MicroTCA (uTCA), now have a galaxy of higher-layer software and firmware coalitions working in concert for open telecom standards. While the physical-layer ATCA/uTCA standards came from the PCI Industrial Computing Manufacturers Group, the software groups operate semi-autonomously, though all coalitions unite under the Mountain View Alliance.

Among those working with ATCA are: SAF, which defines profiles for high-availability computing; Communications Platform Trade Association, or CP-TA, which helps OEMs define interoperable platforms; Scope Alliance, which analyzes existing profiles and specifications and critiques them for specific telecom applications; and OpenSAF, providing a working implementation of SAF standards.

Asif Naseem, president of SAF and chief operating officer of GoAhead Software Inc., said Motorola's new effort is less a standards body in its own right than a move to shift a high-availability software suite to the open-source community.

"Many software suites could meet SAF standards and be offered as open source and be similar to OpenSAF," Naseem said. "GoAhead could do the same thing if we thought customers would want it."

Brian Carr, strategic marketing manager at Motorola, said the more layers of ATCA support software that are moved to open-source implementations, the richer a support environment will be. Scores of new developers are entering the ATCA community, particularly to develop Advanced Mezzanine Cards used in MicroTCA and in full-size ATCA carrier-cards. But the real growth still seems to be in Europe and Asia.

During an economics panel Wednesday (Oct. 17) at the ACTA Summit here, Bart Stuck, executive chairman of CorEdge Networks Inc., said sluggishness among North American OEMs can be partly blamed on the lack of single large players in telecom equipment that dominate the market the way Huawei dominates in China.


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