Linux Containers Authors: Derek Weeks, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, TJ Randall, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

The Holy Grail of Networking

End-to-end infrastructure with a single OS

Recent studies show Linux taking a large and growing share of the global data center market, as well as making incipient gains on the desktop. Traditional IT deployment, however, doesn't tell the whole Linux story - this open source OS is also making impressive inroads in less-visible embedded applications. On this front Linux has come to dominate design-wins in communications, consumer electronics, and other ubiquitous applications, going from upstart to leader in less than four years.

Linux's success in telecommunications and networking infrastructure includes hundreds of shipping systems that do routing, switching, security, wireless and broadband access, billing, and many other data- and voice-centric functions. Emblematic is the success of Carrier Grade Linux (CGL), the specification recommendations created by OSDL members to support the needs of communications carriers and operators. When the CGL specification was first introduced four years ago, it was deemed too "exotic" and specialized; today, CGL capabilities for availability, fault management, performance, and other areas are mainstream in the Linux kernel and software stack. Now in its third revision, the CGL requirements specification informs Linux platform offerings from eight distribution suppliers, powers the product offerings of several dozen networking equipment providers, and underlies voice and data networks around the world. For example, the wireless phone networks of greater Tokyo, much of the United Kingdom, and all of Belgium rely on CGL.

In the last two years, Linux has also enjoyed substantial gains on the "other end of the wire" - garnering impressive design-wins on home networking equipment, digital video set-top boxes, and HDTV sets, and most tantalizingly, on wireless mobile phones. Manufacturers in this 300 million-unit-a-year marketplace are looking to Linux for reasons that mirror Linux's success in the infrastructure: its robustness, performance, security, scalability, and "gold standard" IP networking. Indeed, where mobile OEMs once regarded their wares as hardware-centric, mono-function devices, they today see them as "little servers" - software-dominated platforms for differentiated service delivery.

Analysts estimate that last year between 10 million and 15 million Linux-powered phones entered the marketplace, principally from Matsushita and NEC selling into Japan's NTT DoCoMo advanced wireless network, and also in China from mobile giant Motorola and local suppliers like Datang, Huawei, and ZTE. To augment this organic trend, by further lowering technical and economic barriers to building Linux-based phones, OSDL recently began the Mobile Linux Initiative (MLI). MLI brings together representatives from the whole mobile ecosystem - Linux platform providers and other ISVs, chipset suppliers, handset makers, carriers, and operators - with the goal of accelerating Linux adoption by bridging performance and functional gaps in the Linux kernel and software stack.

Together, CGL and MLI strive to create an unprecedented "end-to-end" deployment of a common platform spanning the gamut of server to client, fixed to mobile, wireline to wireless, and back again. "End-to-end" is appealing in its symmetry and scope, but does such sweeping deployment really confer benefits to networks and their end users? As long as the nodes on a network implement the correct protocols, should we really care about the particulars of the network infrastructure or its clients? Certainly in data infrastructure Linux, legacy Unix and versions of Windows certainly enjoyed and continue to participate in co-deployment on a range of networks, thanks to strong standardization and the overarching need for interoperability. However, designers of embedded software and hardware for client devices face a bewildering array of processor types and embedded RTOSes, competing standards-based implementations, and incompatible middleware. The appeal of an end-to-end, "strategic" platform reflects the needs of OEMs and their customers, the carriers and operators. OEMs see diminishing returns on building and maintaining sui generis proprietary platforms, and equally bad ROI from acquiring, learning, integrating, and maintaining the multiple competing commercial proprietary operating systems that replaced their last-generation in-house creations. Small OEMs lack the resources to build and/or integrate and maintain the millions of lines of code in modern wireless applications. Large OEMs can't afford the overhead of internal fragmentation and seek to leverage the same economies of scale in engineering that they enjoy in manufacturing and distribution. The desire for a unifying strategic platform is especially strong with OEMs whose offerings scale from clients to servers and points in between, like Cisco, Huawei, Motorola, NEC, Siemens, and CE OEMs like Panasonic (Matsushita), Philips, Samsung and Sony.

Carriers and operators (like most end users) strive for "indifference" to the underlying implementation of the devices that support and use their networks. The COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) value proposition dictates that as long as those systems conform to base industry standards and correctly implement key protocols, customers can treat all such equipment as black boxes. However, just as OEMs seek to simplify training, integration, and maintenance, carriers and operators want to unify the management of their network assets. So, while in theory the network is a chain of COTS black boxes, a unifying and open platform represents the infrastructure Holy Grail - a tonic for lagging profits and an elixir to lengthen the life of aging networks and business models.

And Linux, as it turns out, is that Holy Grail OS.

To learn more about how OSDL initiatives are helping to enable global end-to-end infrastructure, visit www.osdl.org.

More Stories By Stuart Cohen

Stuart F. Cohen - Chief Executive Officer. Stuart Cohen is a seasoned technology industry executive who consistently focuses on sustainable, profitable growth and market leadership. With over 22 years of international sales and marketing experience, Stuart most recently served as vice president and corporate officer at RadiSys Corporation where his responsibilities included strategic partnership development with other industry leaders including IBM, HP and Dell.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Ed 02/23/06 01:16:13 PM EST

Interesting point about the #1 image with this article. Three gears, meshed in the manner shown, will not EVER turn, no matter how much lubricant is applied. The third gear (smallest, to the right) will be trying to turn both directions at once, as each of the other gears is moving in opposite directions.

Sounds like this might be a metaphor for your column?

SYS-CON India News Desk 02/19/06 04:27:40 PM EST

Recent studies show Linux taking a large and growing share of the global data center market, as well as making incipient gains on the desktop. Traditional IT deployment, however, doesn't tell the whole Linux story - this open source OS is also making impressive inroads in less-visible embedded applications. On this front Linux has come to dominate design-wins in communications, consumer electronics, and other ubiquitous applications, going from upstart to leader in less than four years.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Donna Yasay, President of HomeGrid Forum, today discussed with a panel of technology peers how certification programs are at the forefront of interoperability, and the answer for vendors looking to keep up with today's growing industry for smart home innovation. "To ensure multi-vendor interoperability, accredited industry certification programs should be used for every product to provide credibility and quality assurance for retail and carrier based customers looking to add ever increasing num...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...