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ATCA Needs Platform Thinking

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/27/2005

The AdvancedTCA standard is promising, but industry acceptance will be slow unless it's developed in conjunction with neighboring standards, according to a keynoter at today's LR Live conference.

Kicking off "AdvancedTCA," a one-day Light Reading and Heavy Reading event, John Fryer, a director of marketing for Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), said it's important to take a wider, platform-level view, rather than considering ATCA as a solution by itself.

The Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) is a set of standards for telecom hardware, encompassing blade specifications and a number of switch-fabric options. The hope is that ATCA will make telecom equipment faster and cheaper to develop, much in the way that standards have sped the development of enterprise equipment.

That's best achieved if the industry subscribes to a "platform" concept, Fryer said -- a way to deliver, as a unit, all of the product-development steps that don't add value to a vendor. This would mean matching ATCA with other pieces such as the Service Availability Forum, which is developing standards for high-availability middleware for telecom.

"ATCA alone is not sufficient to be successful," Fryer said.

With standards being developed individually, the adoption of ATCA and the SA Forum's work will be slower, Fryer predicted. "Standards would be adopted, but the rate of that adoption depends on the systems vendors being able to incorporate [separate standards] into their platforms. It could be well into the next decade before [the standards] become ubiquitous."

That's because the time to integrate and test technologies can be a "killer" for product development, he said. Standards have a tendency to vary from vendor to vendor, creating surprise glitches when standards-based pieces get put together.

What's required, Fryer believes, is to develop these standards as a group. That would allow vendors to grab off-the-shelf blades with confidence, and would let each vendor focus on whatever aspect of systems development it considers a money-making specialty.

As a side note, Fryer pointed out that those specialties will have to change, as many vendors, as a result of standards like ATCA, "no longer see their value in building raw hardware." This is reflected in Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) plans, which include moving into consulting and services and, reportedly, middleware (see Cisco Rolls Out Roadmaps and Cisco's Secret Software Strategy). The companies that cling to plain hardware sales "have some risk of being the losers" in an ATCA world, Fryer said.

ATCA's best success has been in the wireless realm so far, although a recent Unstrung Insider noted that the large vendors such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) are biding their time before accepting the standard (see Big Nords Wait on ATCA). Fryer hinted that further developments will be unveiled by vendors at next month's 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France. "You're going to see some exciting announcements related to some of these technologies."

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading




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dljvjbsl
dljvjbsl
12/5/2012 | 3:28:31 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Does anyone esle recall all that ISDN with its standrd interfaces promised the same things as ACTA. Companies would be able to mix equipment from multiple vendors. Technology has a habit of moving too quickly for these standards.

I recall when I was just starting out attending a sales presentation form a relay company. A very senior engineer gaves us an interesting talk on the latest vesion of reed relay. It was ideal fro switch fabirss. It was jsut 5 years too late. This was a very able man whose technology market was disappearing around him. Given today's environment who would doubt that ACTA will be in the same predicament very quickly. 64Kbs channelized data anyone?
dljvjbsl
dljvjbsl
12/5/2012 | 3:28:30 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking

From business perspective ATCA makes sense. The switching, routing and SONET hardware is getting commoditized


Just like T1 became a commodity in the 1970s. This hope to standardize everything is a perpetual one. It is revivied every 5 to 10 years or so.


Viewpoint
Viewpoint
12/5/2012 | 3:28:30 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
From my understanding the analogy to ATCA is "IBM compatible PC with its ISA(now PCI) interfaces". You can get off the shelf motherboards and adapter cards. PC OEMs buy motherboards and adapter cards from component suppliers, middleware software (i.e. OS) from Microsoft or put in Linux.

From business perspective ATCA makes sense. The switching, routing and SONET hardware is getting commoditized.
edgecore
edgecore
12/5/2012 | 3:28:24 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Doing more with less is what it is all about for the big telco OEM's.

Aside from the obvious fact that embedded HW is becoming a commodity, the true value in ATCA lies in the handing off of hw and sw designs as well as integration to one single vendor...its really a business play!

EC
zoinks!
zoinks!
12/5/2012 | 3:28:23 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
The introduction of commodity hardware will hasten the offshoring of software development, including the "innovative" and "architectural" bodies of work.

VCs are already pushing for offshore plans in Biz Plans right from the start, currently having the architect/wiz local. But that will likely change as more and more experienced Asian engineering/architects return home.

Mr. Cynical
sgan201
sgan201
12/5/2012 | 3:28:22 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Hi,
When you ask the wrong questions, you will never get the right answer. In order for something to be cheap, it needs to be commoditized. That means it needs to be produced and sold for a huge volume. Telecom market do not have the volume. Let's say this ACTA is successful, it will only have a volume of 500K to 1 millions.

Hint: the volume existed outside telecom market is in the volume of 50 millions or more. If you want to be low cost, it is cheaper and easier to adapt one of those platform for Telecom usage.

Dreamer

sigint
sigint
12/5/2012 | 3:28:21 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Even as ATCA was taking shape, there were already players who were all for "violating" the standard. (The use of PAM for back-plane signaling being just one example).

IMO, Intel, the erstwhile prime-mover for this standard would have to play from both sides of the court to make this work. Not easy.
edgecore
edgecore
12/5/2012 | 3:28:21 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
-----------
Hint: the volume existed outside telecom market is in the volume of 50 millions or more. If you want to be low cost, it is cheaper and easier to adapt one of those platform for Telecom usage.

Dreamer
-----------

Mr Dreamer,

What platform could have "hige" volumes and still be carrier grade and pass NEBS and ETSI?

Are you refering to Blade Center and Blade Center T?

Thx

EC
sgan201
sgan201
12/5/2012 | 3:28:20 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Hi,
The right question should be what platform has high volume and low costs and will have increasingly high volume and low cost. With that volume, telecom equipment can coat tail that to achieve low cost.

In electronic, volume is the key for low cost and commoditization.

Dreamer
sgan201
sgan201
12/5/2012 | 3:28:20 AM
re: ATCA Needs Platform Thinking
Hi,
A) That and/or some platform that can be adapted to NEBS and ETSI cheaply.

B) Is the high growth market (aka 3rd world market) in Telecom world really care about NEBS and ETSI??

Anyway you put it. The answer is not ATCA..

Dreamer
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