IBM to Open Linux Testing Lab for Telcos

New lab is built for the telecommunications industry's testing of Linux.

IBM, in a move designed to accelerate both the use of its server products and the adoption of Linux in the telecommunications industry, on Tuesday announced a new Intel Corp.-based eServer and the creation of a Linux Server Provider Lab in Oregon.

Dan Powers, the vice president of Linux solutions worldwide for IBM in Somers, N.Y., told eWeek that the new eServer x343 is designed to run "hardened" versions of Linux for the telecommunications industry and was targeting Sun Microsystems Inc.s dominance in the Telco Unix server space.

"The telco industry is very Unix focused and Sun probably has about 80 percent market share in that Unix marketplace," he said. "Compared to a Sun platform and environments, our new server offers customers open standards-based computing and better performance at a lower price."

Vendors also needed to have Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) compliant platforms to effectively sell into the telco space.

"The IBM eServer x343 meets the NEBS level 3 standards - the most stringent level of disaster resistant certification in the telecommunications industry. We have a big lead over our competitors in this space," he said.

As Linux continued to evolve and scaled beyond 4-way SMP, a whole new marketplace opened up for Linux; one that had never been available to it before and one which was primarily Solaris based, Powers said.

The new IBM eServer x343 costs about $9,999 and expands Big Blues eServer xSeries telecommunications portfolio. Last August at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco IBM announced the eServer x330 and x300 servers, which are both designed for converged voice and data networking environments.

Powers said some 50 service providers and their suppliers had already chosen IBMs Linux solutions. These included Future Cellular Communications Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, which currently has 33 kiosks throughout the state relying on IBMs DB2 database software for Linux running on eServer xSeries systems. It is looking to implement a nationwide kiosk network, CEO Jim Kirwan said in a statement.

Cambia Networks and Worldgate Networks are also currently using Linux to save operating systems licensing fees, consolidate workloads and reduce infrastructure costs, Powers said. He also cited its December 2000 deal with Telia, Scandinavias largest telecommunications and Internet provider, which replaced its 70 Sun Microsystems web hosting servers with a single IBM mainframe S/390 G6 enterprise server.

Powers added that IBMs new Linux Service Provider Lab, which was being set up in conjunction with Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel, would focus with Telcos on the "next generation network applications."

The lab, which is set to open at the end of this month, would provide a next-generation IP network infrastructure environment for testing of applications including softswitch, wireless infrastructure applications, unified messaging and network services.

"So basically this is a lab that has all the equipment that Telcos are using today, but is also set-up for the next-generation applications like the universal mailbox that handles voice, fax and text messages all from one mailbox and virtual private networking and VOIP. Theyll be able to bring in their apps and try them out on NEPS-compliant equipment and the next generation devices fromIBM, Cisco and Intel," he said.

While users would not be charged for basic use of the Lab, additional services would be available for a negotiated fee, he said.

IBMs move follows the announcement earlier this year at the New York LinuxWorld Conference that a group of hardware and software vendors were working together to develop a new version of the Linux operating system that is optimized for the telecommunications industry.

The Open Source Development Lab, an independent, nonprofit lab initially designed for developers adding enterprise capabilities to the Linux operating system, is providing the forum to guide the development and adoption of Linux in the carrier-grade market.

IBMs Powers said its new lab was complementary to the OSDL, and that the first reference platform of carrier-grade Linux would show up in platforms in its (IBMs) lab.