Enea Revives Équipe Middleware
No, Équipe hasn't spawned a startup. But about half a dozen of the defunct switchmaker's software folks have migrated to 37-year-old Swedish firm Enea AB, a vendor of real-time operating systems and related software.
The software category is high-availability middleware, but company officials are quick to point out that it's more like a development environment -- behind-the-scenes software that makes high availability possible.
High availability involves keeping a copy of state information handy, so that a backup card can take over in the event of a failure. HA middleware does things like coordinating and overseeing the backup process, or telling the backup card that it's now the primary card. HA middleware also keeps a router's IP stack informed of what's happening, so the router "knows" that a particular card or port is unavailable, for example.
For the folks dealing with IP protocols, HA middleware can be described as "a bunch of service calls to generate log events," says Terry Pearson, a former Équipe survivor who is now an Enea vice president of product management.
This is the kind of software equipment vendors could create themselves. But with carriers demanding lower costs and vendors paring R&D staffs, Enea is counting on HA middleware to become a ripe area for outsourcing.
The argument parallels that of ATCA, where the goal is to create standardized hardware for telecom equipment (see ATCA Finds Its Way). "This is not something OEMs want to spend their spare engineering resources on," says Anders Flodin, Enea's director of strategic alliances.
In general, ATCA is spawning a symbiotic software movement, with Enea likely to face competition from other embedded computing companies such as Motorola Computer Group. Some of this work is being developed under the auspices of the Service Availability Forum (SAF).
"There are now a number of related organizations developing common software APIs and open-source applications. These developments are key to providing a common platform across the industry beyond the basic hardware," writes Heavy Reading analyst Simon Stanley in a recent report, "AdvancedTCA: Who's Doing What." (See ATCA Starts to Rumble.)
Not that high availability is any guarantee of survival: Many a systems startup lived and died preaching the technology, Équipe included (see Équipe Hints at Software Edge).
Which brings up a point: Whatever happened to Équipe's hardware? "Nothing, really," Pearson says.
As you might recall, the core switch startup, which shut down early last year, reportedly turning down a tepid acquisition offer from The last the world heard of Équipe was in June 2004 when the assets -- mostly things like chairs and PCs -- were auctioned off, and Pearson says he's heard of no plans to resurrect the company's switch (see Équipe Forfeits Match and Equipe Assets Go to Auction).
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading