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March 25, 2009

Changing the Way Managed ATCA Platforms are Delivered

By Tim Gray, TMCnet Web Editor


While the emergence of commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware platforms, Carrier Grade Linux and management middleware has had a significant impact on the market for next generation network equipment, standardized COTS building blocks are only part of the story.
 
Through enabling Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs) to readily assemble best of breed COTS components, the ability to “jumpstart” the development of new Network Elements is initiated. And with an ever expanding COTS ecosystem delivering components from multiple vendors that are considered highly specialized in each area, there remains the challenge in efficiently integrating this complex mix of technologies while still achieving the high reliability required by all major operations.
 
In a recent white paper from RadiSys (News - Alert), a major provider of advanced embedded solutions for the communications networking and commercial systems markets for OEMs, systems integrators, and solution providers, the company called the integration of these technologies a “daunting task” and one which is still in its infancy in terms of being truly addressed.

“Anyone who has attempted to create a fully integrated, modeled and managed ATCA platform can attest to the fact that it is a tedious, messy effort that can take up to 54 person-months to complete,” the company wrote in the paper titled, “The Enea (News - Alert) System Manager: Changing the way Managed ATCA Plat forms are Delivered to the Market.”
 
At the same time, developing management software does not directly add value to the service providers and takes the focus away from the application deployment. And yet, the management capability of the shelf and various blades that make up a typical COTS ATCA platform is completely known.
 
Through a collaborated effort, Enea and RadiSys have teamed to deliver, for the first time, a complete out-of-the-box platform management solution that is pre-integrated, pre-modeled and ready to be incorporated into the overall Element Management, according to the companies.
 
RadiSys and Enea, a provider of network software and services for Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs), recently released the new management solution both companies believe will dramatically alter the ATCA space.
 
What makes the Enea System Manager unique, said Robert Monkman, director of Corporate Alliances for Enea, is the comprehensive design and its pre-integrated, pre-modeled platform management application for the ATCA platform.
 
“This is a substantial new product category,” Monkman said. “It is the first time a pre-integrated, pre-modeled TEMs solution will be delivered out-of-the-box to the marketplace. It is going to have an impact on adoption rates in the whole ATCA market.”
 
The companies say the Enea System Manager is dramatically reducing the cost, time and risk normally taken on by the TEMs when they create a managed platform in-house. As a result, TEMs can more readily adopt COTS ATCA platforms, moving the entire market forward, and deploy earlier, capturing more design wins and market share.
 
The Enea System Manager is a designed for the RadiSys Promentum ATCA 10G platform.
 
In addition, the solution enables configuring, monitoring, controlling the hardware assets as well as upgrading platform software for ATCA systems. Enea System Manager is comprised of a robust systems management framework, fully integrated with the RadiSys platform, encapsulating its blade-level management APIs and SA Forum-conformant HPI (News - Alert) shelf management, according to the company.
 
RadiSys believes the reduction in research and development costs, when factored in with time saved and risks mitigated, will allow TEMs to determine how to best leverage savings to accelerate time-to-market or allocate critical resources elsewhere.
 
As more TEMs adopt ATCA, the key issue becomes standardizing and outsourcing not just the hardware, but also the software stack up to the application layer. The key differentiator is the idea that ATCA enables TEMs to obtain compute platforms through outsourcing, reserving their development efforts for applications.
  
According to the RadiSys, this allows a single, unified management model for the deployed network element including the underlying RadiSys ATCA platform and end user application. In the past this has been costly and time consuming and a task performed by TEMs. Now, RadiSys is hopping to change that process.
 
In addition, System Manager can be customized and extended with a unique Software Development Kit to include custom management of applications and/or other software in a network element, according to the companies.
 
This capability enables a distributed messaging layer and a system log that is shared by the entire system. As a result, the same tools used to build managed objects for hardware assets and their associated standard interfaces may be applied to any software asset.
 
TMCnet’s Executive Editor of the IP Communications Group Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) recently reported on the advances of ATCA and the industries predicted growth.

Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray



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