Linux is on the line

Through a partnership between Red Hat Inc. and Mississauga, Ont.-based Motorola Computer Group (MCG) of Canada, Linux applications will be provided for telecom applications, the companies announced last month.

Motorola will package the Red Hat Linux operating system with its Advanced High-Availability Software for Linux (HA-Linux), and will ship it with its carrier-grade high-availability embedded computer platforms.

Paul Holt, the vice-president and regional director for Canada and central USA at MCG, said that as the company’s customers build infrastructure for telecommunications and Internet networks, they are increasingly needing constant uptime.

Network administrators “are running networks, so they’re used to the telephone, dial-tone reliability of 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That is kind of the standard that these companies need to provide equipment to do, and we are now bringing Linux into that environment. That’s what’s really significant – it’s like a further evolution of the product to now go into continuously-available systems,” Holt said.

It was only a few years ago that people were building proprietary hardware, applications and operating systems, he added. “It was really homemade proprietary systems…and what you’re finding out there is that it is such a competition for applications and services. And there’s so much focus now being put on who can provide more applications.”

People are moving to more and more open systems as a result of this, he explained, because they want to be able to focus on what is going to generate revenue.

“Because [Linux] is open-source (code), the source gets scrutinized by literally thousands of developers globally via the Internet,” said Rob Pettigrew, the national engineering manager for MCG. “Any sort of subtle bugs that might make their way through a more proprietary, closed system can be discovered.”

It is due to this, and the robustness of the Linux platform, that telecom OEMs are finding it a very good platform on which to develop their applications, Pettigrew said.

Paul Zorsass, a senior analyst with International Data Corp. and First Technology Inc. in Framingham, Mass., said this announcement enforces the commitment that MCG has to the Linux world.

“This is another of their partnerships that demonstrates that they’re committed to [Linux] and that their telecommunications customers are eager to have this as a choice, even though Linux is a little bit early for the embedded type of activity.”

The announcement is also a strong statement about what customers want to see, he pointed out. “I would say that there is a high interest in determining how well a…Linux system will meet the needs of a customer base, whether they will get all the tools and associate other technologies that they need to be successful for the customer base,” he said.

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