ATCA/Standard Servers

ATCA Maturity Challenges System Integrators

Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) is now widely used by telecom equipment manufacturers, and more companies are taking advantage of the ecosystem by using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) blades and third-party middleware. At the same time, fewer companies are choosing to work with system integrators. This is a reflection of the ease with which companies can integrate their own ATCA-based systems and shows that system integrators have failed to demonstrate the added value they can bring to companies developing new systems.

This is one of many key findings in the latest issue of Heavy Reading Components Insider, "ATCA, AMCs & MicroTCA: 2012 User Survey," based on an exclusive worldwide survey that drew responses from 86 professionals that represent almost 60 different equipment vendors and system manufacturers. The report covers the use of ATCA, Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) modules and MicroTCA, providing unique insight into the state of the market. The report includes information on which vendors are used for ATCA system integration, ATCA chassis and AMC modules, and the use of in-house and COTS blades. The report also includes several charts that compare results across four surveys spanning seven years, from 2005 to 2012, providing valuable trend data.

The use of ATCA by equipment vendors continues to grow: Three quarters of the vendors developing ATCA-based systems already have at least one system in production. Following 10 years of development, we now see a mature ATCA market with a stable ecosystem and a balanced mix of companies using ATCA for one, several, most or all new system developments. The use of ATCA is expanding across a wider range of applications, with the introduction of 40G platforms accelerating this trend. Wireless infrastructure remains the leading market for ATCA-based systems, and there is significant growth in the use of ATCA for media servers and bladed servers.

System integrators will provide an application-ready ATCA platform or help companies develop their own platform using pre-integrated components. This can significantly reduce the development time for new systems. The system integrators used by companies covered in the survey include Adlink Technology Inc. , Advantech Co. Ltd. , Emerson Electric Co. , Kontron AG , NEI , Radisys Corp. (Nasdaq: RSYS) and Performance Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: PTIX). Radisys is the leading ATCA system integrator, having recently acquired Continuous Computing Corp. . Third-party middleware is used by a growing number of companies, taking share away from system integrators and in-house designs.

Many companies are using COTS ATCA blades. A greater number of companies are using COTS blades rather than in-house designs for CPU/server, storage, carrier and DSP functions. In-house designs are preferred by a small majority for switch and networking blades. Chassis are a key part of any ATCA platform. Most chassis support 40G switching and power per slot in excess of 300W. ATCA chassis suppliers include Asis-Pro Ltd., Comtel Electronics GmbH , Elma Electronic Inc. and Schroff/Pentair Electronic Packaging .

Approximately half of the companies covered in the survey are using AMC modules, a slight decrease from previous surveys. The leading vendors for AMC modules include Adax Inc. , Advantech Co. Ltd. , CES, GE Intelligent Platforms, Interphase Corp. , N.A.T. GmbH, One Stop Systems Inc., SANBlaze Technology Inc. and PT. There has also been a reduction in interest for MicroTCA, a platform based on AMC modules. Leading applications for MicroTCA include wireless base stations, media servers, voice gateways and softswitches, and DWDM transport.

ATCA is now a mature market with a well-established ecosystem and companies developing fifth- and sixth-generation platforms. Many companies are taking advantage of the open specification using a mix of COTS blades and chassis, third-party middleware and in-house designs. The key challenge for system integrators and other ecosystem suppliers in growing revenue is to demonstrate the value of their solutions over in-house ATCA designs.

— Simon Stanley, Analyst, Heavy Reading Components Insider

This report, ATCA, AMCs & MicroTCA: 2012 User Survey, is available for $1,595. For more information, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/commchip.

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