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Sun/Intel Partnership Targets Telcos

The latest fruits of the Sun/Intel alliance are in a potentially lucrative vertical market. The two companies today announced the availability of Sun' Solaris operating system on Intel-based telecommunications rack and blade servers. Last month, Sun announced a new line of blade servers available with choice of AMD, Intel or Sun's own Sparc processors.

The systems are carrier grade rack mount servers that are certified Network Equipment-Building System (NEBS) Level 3 and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) compliant, and blades that adhere to the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA), spec for next-generation telecommunications equipment.

This is a big market for both companies. Sun  said between 30 and 40 percent of its business comes from telcos. "The telecom market is a very strong vertical for Sun, but in terms of Intel, we've been selling carrier grade platforms to the telecom space for three to five years now, taking quite a bit of time making sure the hardware is hardened to the NEBS and ETSI certification," Keate Despain, director of marketing for the ATCA product line at Intel told internetnews.com.

The new Carrier Grade Rack Mount Server TIGW1U is the first Intel  carrier grade server shipping today that supports both Linux and Solaris. In the third quarter, Intel will ship NetStructure MPCBL0050, a single board computer based on the ATCA architecture that will also support both Linux and Solaris. Currently, the MPCBL0050 is undergoing Solaris Hardware Certification Test Suite (HCTS) certification

Mark Hamilton, vice president of Solaris marketing at Sun, said the two companies worked well together because they both maintain the backward compatibility with their hardware and software that telcos want.

"When carriers deploy a platform, they need to keep deployed for at least five years and have backward compatibility with new hardware," he explained. "A lot of Linux platforms say you only get support for 18 months. They could be two or three years into a deployment and it's not supported any more."

On the hardware side, telcos will need to be able to replicate the original platform three, four or five years down the road and can't afford incompatibilities. Because of the backwards compatibility of x86 and Solaris, Hamilton argues the two companies are a good fit for telcos.

"There is a lot of enterprise class strength with Solaris on an Intel platform," he said. "This is now offering that same choice for the telecom market."