HP Debuts Server For Industry Spec

By Tim Scannell

HP today unveiled what is believed to be the first large-scale blade server system to incorporate the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA), a technology designed to support the multimedia applications and services demands of wireless carriers and telecommunications providers.

The HP bh5700 blade server supports the industry-standard AdvancedTCA, which requires defined levels of computing and processing power, including a backplane capacity up to 4.5 terabits per second and random access memory exceeding 8G bytes/board.

AdvancedTCA, which was proposed in 2004 by the PCI Industrial Computers Manufacturing Group (PICMG), is a big deal because it is the next generation of computing architecture for the telcos,” said Rob Rich, executive vice president of Telecom & Networking Research, for the Yankee Group.

“Folks aren’t going to go out and scrap everything and buy all this, but they are in the replacement cycle and there are new service delivery architectures coming in over the next five to 10 years that will make a significant difference and will probably be based to some extent, if not to a large extent, on this new architecture.”

In addition to HP, companies that have committed to developing AdvancedTCA products include Sun Microsystems, Motorola, and to some extent IBM, said Rich. The bh5700 server will make its official debut next week at the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona, Spain, where HP will also announce first deployments of the system. General shipments are scheduled to begin in April.

HP’s new server adds another key piece to its overall strategy to provide both client devices and backbone infrastructure equipment to mobile carriers and the wireless service provider industries.

“Think of it like a layer cake,” said Joy King, director of worldwide industry marketing for HP’s Network and Service Provider Business. “Starting at the bottom you have the core network infrastructure and fabric, and then build on top of that things like mobility management and OSS/BSS systems, mobile devices and services.”

While wireless service providers may not be racing to immediately replace all of their existing technology with AdvancedTCA equipment, forecasts say that AdvancedTCA deployment will grow significantly over the next few years to become a $15.7 billion market by 2008.

“Everybody recognizes that commercial off-the-shelf technology is critical to the cost and control issues in mobile and wireless services,” added King.

While the HP bh5700 supports the AdvancedTCA specification, the system also incorporates many of the fault-tolerant designs that come from Tandem Computer Systems, which was absorbed by Compaq in 1997 and then came to HP with the acquisition of Compaq in 2002.

Tandem’s non-stop computing platform has since been enhanced to accommodate demands that are unique to the telecommunications and mobile services industries.

One of these demands is an increased need for software that is delivered over-the-air (OTA) to wireless subscribers on a non-stop basis. This includes mobile content, but also applications updates, security and virus protection software, and handset firmware upgrades.

In fact, the AdvancedTCA introduction is designed to fit in well with HP’s current mobile carrier strategy and offer a seamless upgrade path for its existing customers.

One of these is Telefonica Moviles España (TME), which has more than 19.5 million subscribers in Spain and is the world’s fourth largest mobile services provider.

The carrier uses HP’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions to provide OTA updates to subscribers. MDM is a compilation of HP hardware and services and mobile device management software developed by mFormation Technologies.

Vodacom, a South African wireless operator with more than 17.5 million subscribers, also uses HP systems and software as part of its telecommunications backbone, including the HP OpenCall Home Location Register (HP HLR).

The software is designed to track all the services a subscriber has purchased, not only for billing but for service updates, as well. At present, HP OpenCall HLR is used by 35 operators on five continents, and provides managed mobility services to more than 120 million subscribers, according to HP.

The AdvancedTCA announcement builds upon HP’s previous commitments to integrate all of its technologies and services under one “umbrella” solution for telecom customers, added King.

Nearly 18 months ago, HP unwrapped its Advance Open Telecom Platform (AOTP) strategy, which maps out the combined use of server technologies, carrier-grade Linux, communications and signaling software and global supply chain services.

One of the first companies to subscribe to this plan was Motorola, which said at the time of this announcement that it would use HP AOTP technology “as the foundation for their next-generation CDMA and iDen platforms,” said King.

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