IBM, Motorola Partner to Push BladeCenter-Linux Telco Gear
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Supercomm telecommunications trade show was underway last week in Chicago, and with a slight uptick in spending by telco giants and a new upgrade cycle perhaps on the horizon if the economy holds, all the big players are chasing the telecom companies with their new blade server architectures. Last week, server maker IBM and the Computer Group unit of telecom equipment maker Motorola announced a partnership that will see the two cooperate on creating server gear for supporting Motorola's telecom software on IBM's Intel-based and Power servers running Linux.
Motorola last week announced its support of the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) standard for telecom equipment, which uses a 12U chassis and blades that adhere to the PICMG telecom blade standards.
Telecom is a different world from commercial computing, even though many ideas and technologies are shared. Blade servers for telecom applications have been around for a long time, much longer than the three years they have been in use for high-performance computing and commercial computing workloads.
While Motorola likes the AdvancedTCA form factors, some telecom equipment makers and telecom network operators want different form factors to run Motorola's software, and to that end, Motorola announced last week that it will support its telecom high availability software (called the Application Enabling Platform) running on top of Carrier Grade Linux, which supports yet another standard called Service Availability Forum.
Both IBM and Motorola want to push Linux into the telecom space because Sun Microsystems's Sparc/Solaris platform is by far the preferred platform for such switching systems; moreover, Hewlett-Packard has been fairly aggressive in pushing its PA-RISC and now Itanium servers running HP-UX into telecom companies and services providers who use similar hardware and software to support their applications.
By embracing X86 and Power blade servers in IBM's xSeries rack-mounted servers and the telecom variant of its blade servers, the BladeCenter Ts, the two hope to be able to steal some business from Sun and HP. IBM and Motorola are working to get IBM's two-way HS20 and four-way Xeon blades as well as its JS20 PowerPC 970 blades. Neither company plans to support AIX on that PowerPC blade; AIX is not available on 32-bit or 64-bit X86 or Itanium platforms.