February 24, 2006

HP picks Red Hat for AdvancedTCA Blade Server

Author: Stephen Feller

Hewlett-Packard has announced that it will certify Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) as the preferred operating system for its new AdvancedTCA Blade Server, which the company debuted last month at the 3GSM World Congress.

The new blade server is HP's most recent addition to its Advanced Open Telecom Platform (AOTP) blueprint, a line based on the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) industry standard created by the PCI Industrial Manufacturer's Group (PICMG). The AOTP is HP's suite of hardware, carrier-grade Linux, software, and support for the standard.

HP's bh5700 server is a shelf-management subsystem with a 14-slot backplane made for two-way server blades the company developed with Intel. The blades are based on Intel's 32-bit Xeon processor with 64-bit extensions. Though it was premiered at 3GSM, the bh5700 won't begin shipping until next month.

About 100 of the 450 member companies of the PICMG participated in creating industry standard specifications based on new technology, according to the group. The requirements for carrier-grade communications equipment are intended to improve reliability and to ease management and servicing in the telecommunications industry.

Arindam Banerjee, a senior analyst with Yankee Group, says telecommunication services providers are beginning to embrace technological standards because standard hardware and operating systems allow them to focus on development of products and services, and helps them take those things to market faster.

"Adoption of Linux is growing in the communications industry," Banerjee says, "and this is mainly because of service providers' demand for a more open and affordable infrastructure."

He says adoption of Linux in the telecommunication industry is being driven by a desire for lower costs and the availability of Carrier Grade Linux (CGL). HP and Red Hat are among the 23-member CGL Working Group put together by the Open Source Development Lab to establish and steward the CGL Requirements Definition.

The growth in use of CGL by telecommunications service providers over the last 15 months, and providers' continuing adoption of ATCA-compliant hardware, have driven the development of standards-based hardware for the industry, Banerjee says. He adds that service providers are giving more importance to implementing and using standards because it can lower the need for custom hardware and thus the dependency on one company to manufacture compatible components, and it reassures vendors that hardware will meet expectations if it follows the ATCA specifications.

According to Joy King, director of worldwide marketing for network and service providers at HP, they company chose RHEL as the initial Linux offering on the servers based on customer research. King says the company will certify and support additional Linux OSes for the ATCA blade server based on future feedback from its customers.

"RHEL is already firmly entrenched in customers' Linux data centers," King says. "With the strong anticipated growth of information management systems, we see customers looking at having a common OS down into the ATCA infrastructure."

Though HP is already referring to RHEL as its OS of choice, RHEL still must go through a certification process for the bh5700 that will include the standard hardware certification Red Hat recommends for its software and a "deeper" test by HP in areas of stress, installation, and functionality.

HP also plans to recommend areas of the Red Hat certification process to be changed specifically for ATCA-consistent configurations. Among the areas King says she expects recommendations for changes could be made are diskless environments, the use of the Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) Internet protocol, and various configurations of advanced mezzanine cards (AMC) used to connect to I/O devices and disk storage devices.


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