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OpenClovis Targets Open-Source Telecom

Telecom middleware vendor OpenClovis wants to lead an industrywide effort to make open-source networking projects -- many of which target the IT world -- into carrier-grade wares.

The not-so-modestly named ClovisForge initiative, due to formally launch this month, presumably would boost the chances of open-source products to infiltrate service provider networks.

Which products? Well, uh -- that part hasn't been decided yet. Possible targets include the well known Asterisk PBX platform or the Apache HTTP server. Another candidate is the upstart Open Flexible Router from Vyatta Inc. (See Vyatta Vaunts Open Source Router.)

The decision will be in the hands of whatever open-source community members participate, and the project that is chosen as the first should be underway in January, says Subbu Iyer, OpenClovis vice president of marketing.

OpenClovis has talked to a few open-source vendors about the idea, but the company wants end users to get involved, too.

"Our intention is that it's going to be a collaborative effort between OpenClovis and the user community," Iyer says. "We're also going to look for people who are willing to contribute cycles to this development, along with our own resources."

Telcos might crave open-source products because they're free. One goal of ClovisForge is to make open-source speedy too, in the sense that the products could be implemented quickly. That would mean working with standards such as those outlined by the Service Availability Forum (SAF) .

"Before, these components achieved high availability in a different way," says Paola Lubet, VP of marketing for database vendor Solid Information Technology Ltd. "If all these pieces respect the same standard, the time you need to assemble them and test them is cut in half."

OpenClovis has discussed its ideas with a handful of open-source vendors. "We are looking at it, and we like the idea," says Vinay Joosery, a project manager for open-source database firm MySQL AB , which has already developed a high-availability offering. "If there are some good things to work with there, we would gladly do some integration with ClovisForge."

The more IT-minded vendors might not get involved with ClovisForge until later. "It's very telecomm-y," says Dave Roberts, vice president of marketing for Vyatta. "It's related to the ATCA-chassis kinds of stuff, and to date we haven't gone in that direction. It's on our roadmap."

A spokeswoman for Asterisk vendor Digium Inc. said she didn't think the company was aware of ClovisForge; Iyer notes he's had only "very high level talks" with the company.

So, why should OpenClovis be the one to lead this kind of initiative? For one, the company sits in the right part of the telecom space. Its open-source software provides a middleware component to go with the off-the-shelf hardware being spawned by the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) set of standards, helping carriers or telecom equipment makers develop customer applications and build in features such as management and high availability. The software could also be used to let end users develop their own applications.

Before, this kind of software was "proprietary, spaghetti-coded into the applications," Iyer says.

And OpenClovis has connections. HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) resells its software, and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) brings OpenClovis into carrier accounts as part of a joint marketing agreement.

Founded in 2002, OpenClovis has just less than 100 employees split between its Petaluma, Calif., headquarters and Bangalore, India., and has raised $20 million in two venture rounds. The company started as Clovis Solutions but changed its name in May to grab some of that open-source cachet; that's also when OpenClovis formally launched its products. (See OpenClovis Opens Source and OpenClovis Unveils ASP, IDE.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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