The movement to embed Linux into telecommunications infrastructures where continuous uptime is essential got a boost Monday when MontaVista Software Inc. introduced the latest version of its Carrier-Grade Linux open-source operating system. Carrier-Grade Edition 4.0 is built on the latest Linux 2.6 kernel and is designed to give telecom-equipment makers the tools they need to build less expensive, high-availability network components.
The Open Source Development Lab formed the Carrier-Grade Linux, or CGL, working group in 2002 and has issued several sets of specifications that outline the requirements that Linux must meet to serve as a telecom operating system. The goal is to offer features within Linux that accommodate the telecom industry's rigorous requirements for availability and reliability, which are much higher than most enterprise data centers.
Carrier-Grade Linux is essentially the Linux kernel supplemented by open-source software that helps meet the OSDL's requirements defining a carrier-quality operating system, says Bob Monkman, MontaVista's senior manager of product marketing. Carrier-Grade Edition is MontaVista's open-source operating system for use with system network equipment developed by vendors such as Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies.
The maturation of Carrier-Grade Linux marks "an inflection point in the industry," Monkman says. Network-equipment providers typically didn't concern themselves with the operating systems that ran their technology. But three years after the introduction of the Carrier-Grade Linux working group, carriers have become keenly aware of Linux and are developing Linux strategies, he adds.
Version 4.0 supports Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture features as well as real-time capabilities. ATCA is a specification defined by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group, a consortium of more than 450 companies that collaboratively develop open specifications for high-performance telecommunications and industrial-computing applications. PICMG members include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola. Version 4.0's real-time capabilities enable the interruption and reprioritization of workloads.
"The demand seems to be there for systems that offer high availability, are ATCA-based, and Linux-based," Monkman says. "Carriers want to deploy more standards-based systems based on ATCA and CGL."