ATCA Starts to Rumble
The standard's momentum is documented in AdvancedTCA: Who's Doing What, a new report from Heavy Reading, Light Reading's paid research arm. The report summarizes 130 products from 36 vendors, including systems integrators and component suppliers, covering areas such as ATCA systems and switching specifications and a variety of node blades.
ATCA is the latest attempt to standardize telecom systems. Naturally, a host of embedded-computing specialists such as Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) have pledged support for ATCA, as it gives them a chance to create a new market in the traditionally proprietary world of telecom. Progress has reached the point where ATCA was a loud voice in the Supercomm chorus earlier this month (see ATCA Finds Its Way and Motorola Preps ATCA Blast).
The success of ATCA will ride on its acceptance by the large telecom equipment manufacturers. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) doesn't seem interested, but four other big names have embraced ATCA: Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701), Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See Alcatel Unveils ATCA Gear.)
Based on talks with vendors, Stanley figures the ATCA market to measure $3 billion to $5 billion by 2007.
ATCA goes beyond hardware to influence everything about telecom product platforms (see ATCA Needs Platform Thinking). Some of its most significant effects will be felt in the supply chain, "with systems integrators taking on much of the development previously kept in-house by system OEMs," Stanley writes.
On the software side, the Application Interface Specification and Hardware Platform Interface from the Service Availability Forum will create software interfaces to open ATCA to third-party applications.
ATCA faces some competition from IBM Corp.'s (NYSE: IBM) BladeCenter, an open specification aimed at blade servers. So far, that hasn't impeded the ATCA camp. "We are seeing limited interest in [BladeCenter] beyond the data-center market. With Intel, [Hewlett-Packard Co.], and Sun all committed to ATCA, IBM will find this a hard sell in the long term," Stanley writes.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading