Success with AdvancedTCA and commercial grade Linux
Case study: Hans Jürgen Rauscher describes how “Platform for Network Equipment – Linux Edition”, or PNE LE, can present a commercial Carrier Grade Linux software platform for deployment in ATCA devices like the Universal Access Gateway.
When Airvana, a mobile broadband infrastructure company, decided to develop its new product, the Universal Access Gateway (UAG), the greatest challenge, apart from the technical requirements, was the short implementation time-frame. The UAG had to be launched on the market within just eighteen months, for the company to stay ahead of competition.
Although Airvana has many years of experience in the development of network infrastructure devices for mobile phone providers, it was clear that the extensive specifications could only be implemented if the Airvana development team concentrated on the actual application by using an existing, pre-integrated AdvancedTCA system (a new series of industry standard specifications for next-gen carrier grade communications equipment) – such as a RadiSys, Wind River and OpenClovis solution.
Leverage, don’t re-invent
Usually the development team select the hardware first (usually at the chip, and not even at a component level), followed by the operating system, and then further system software and middleware. This procedure is possible with devices with straightforward designs, although still only partly advisable.
Today, the requirements on the final product are too great; meeting technical and qualitative standards is already mandatory in the first version. Especially in highly-reliable telecommunications systems such as the UAG.
The development process also takes place under increasing pressure from competitors, which finally leads to very short implementation periods for the project, such as the short deadline Airvana was facing. The end user will not pay anymore for the effort in time and money to re-invent the “hardware and system software” wheel!
Using components that have already been developed and tested is the only reasonable way to minimise risk. The Open Source software movement around Linux has been doing this successfully for years; AdvancedTCA has developed it for commercial off-the-shelf hardware, with Commercial-Grade Carrier Grade Linux to complete it.
Components from specialists
Several factors contributed to making the integrated solution from RadiSys (ATCA-Hardware), Wind River (Commercial Grade Linux) and OpenClovis (Middleware) interesting for Airvana.
Since a complete, highly-reliable ATCA system was available, Airvana was able to concentrate on adding value by developing applications for the UAG instead of focusing on the underlying architecture. This saves development time, leads to earlier product availability and increases the market chances drastically.
For AdvancedTCA as such, the component idea was already developed when the standards were adopted and implemented. Anybody who’s already developed with ATCA knows that the integration of the system software – that is, Carrier Grade Linux including Linux Board Support Package and support for the hardware management by means of IPMI and HPI – taken on their own, represent a challenge.
Heterogeneous CPU architectures and network processors with the necessary parallel micro-code don’t necessarily make the situation any easier. The additional necessity of using high-availability middleware, which guarantees almost 100% uptime at the application level, brings further complexity into the overall system.
The approach to implement, integrate, test, maintain and support these building blocks using solely an in-house product development team are very likely to fail, due to the sheer mass of functions and possible errors. The team can easily become bogged down with these challenges rather than stay focused on application development and risking time to revenue. Here, it’s clear that specialists are required who can develop the components and make them available in high quality and with extensive product support.
Therefore RadiSys offers the “Promentum” product series (SYS-6010, ATCA-7010, ATCA-2100), which is needed for network devices such as the Universal Access Gateway which require extensive scaling.
The solution is easily adaptable to varying customer environments – with optimum interfaces, band-width and costs. With 10 Gigabit per second, there is sufficiently high band-width, thanks to Intel IXP network processors with hardware-supported package processing for flexibility and high data throughput, and last but not least, maintenance and system stability.
Platform for Network Equipment – Linux Edition
With “Platform for Network Equipment – Linux Edition” (PNE LE), Wind River presents a commercial Carrier Grade Linux Software Platform available particularly for deployment in ATCA devices like the Universal Access Gateway. PNE-LE is integrated, tested, validated and registered at The Linux Foundation (formerly: Open Source Development Labs, OSDL) for the CGL requirements version 3.2, this means it fulfils the extensive demands. The recently signed-off CGL 4.0 specification will be implemented in the next PNE-LE version.
Like all Wind River Linux software platforms, PNE-LE is based on the current Linux-Kernel 2.6 and layers onto completely buildable pristine Open Source Code. Included in all Wind River platforms is the Wind River Workbench Development Suite based on Eclipse, which includes extensive error seeking mechanisms such as user and kernel mode debuggers, SystemViewer and ScopeTools, which help in shortening the development time through optimal support of the software development process.
This begins with hardware bring-up, continues with the boot loader and kernel module development and the application programming, and ends with development and system test functions. Wind River Product Support and Professional Services are at the customer’s disposal for advice and actual support worldwide.
At the interface between different networks, the network equipment must fulfil an availability of at least 99.999 percent. On the hardware side, this demand is met by ATCA, on the operating system side by CGL. What’s still missing is a high-availability middleware which makes fail-safe applications possible. Here, OpenClovis with the Application Service Platform and IDE offer the necessary middleware.
This makes it possible, thanks to different services, to synchronize application configurations and data between the different entities in such a way that, in case of failure of an application entity, another can continue the service smoothly.
Integration creates a head start
With the pre-integrated combination, consisting of AdvancedTCA hardware from RadiSys, Carrier Grade Linux from Wind River and high-availability middleware from OpenClovis, Airvana got immediate out-of-the-box application development. Airvana can focus resources on competitive differentiation, reduce development cost and risk, accelerate time to market, and build high-quality, competitive products using best-of-breed technologies.
By Hans Jürgen Rauscher, System Architect Networking, Wind River GmbH
Ref 2: “RadiSys ATCA Promentum”
Ref 4: “OpenClovis Application Service Platform”