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NEP Alliance redefines “scope”

Oct 17, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

An influential industry group aimed at standardizing “carrier grade” systems for telecom and other industries has updated its position paper. The readable technical document is a great place to start for those wishing to understand how SCOPE relates to the Carrier Grade Linux, SA Forum middleware, and PICMG hardware specifications.

Entitled “The SCOPE Alliance: Influencing the Agenda,” the 15-page document can be downloaded here. In addition to defining SCOPE's current mission, it lists the group's accomplishments and ambitions.

The SCOPE Alliance was founded in Jan. 2006 by a group of Netork Equipment Providers (NEPs), including Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, and Siemens. Last year, it added significantly to its membership.

NEPs are in the business of selling integrated hardware/software systems to carriers such as NTT-DoCoMo, ATT, Sprint, and so on. They typically purchase their hardware from TEMs (telecom equipment manufacturers) such as Emerson Network Power (which recently acquired Artesyn and Motorola's embedded computing group), Kontron, and NEC, to name a few. They buy their operating system software from RTOS and Carrier Grade Linux providers such as Sun, Wind River, MontaVista, Enea, and Red Hat. And, they typically integrate high-availability middleware from vendors such as GoAhead, Enea, Sonus Networks, and OpenClovis, or from open source projects such as OpenSAF (which Wind River recently joined).

Each of the three supply chains noted above already has well-established industry groups promoting interoperability between products from different vendors. So, the SCOPE Alliance works to publish “profiles” aimed at further tuning existing specifications to the needs of NEP customers, the carriers. It does this by publishing “profiles” that aim to “identify, prioritize, and make public lists of suggested open standards, specifications, and associated contents,” according to the current version of its position paper.

Current specifications drawn from in SCOPE profiles include:

  • The PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) ATCA, microTCA, and AdvancedMC specifications
  • The Linux Foundation (formerly Open Source Development Labs) Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) specification (read about SCOPE's latest CGL profile here)
  • For middleware, the Service Availability Forum (SAForum) HPI (hardware platform interface) and AIS (application interface specification)

Another area of interest for SCOPE is virtualization, about which it has published three documents, it says.

Interestingly, while SCOPE's work so far has focused on open standards like ATCA and Carrier Grade Linux, there is no reason that commercial RTOSes and proprietary hardware systems cannot comply with its profiles. The group's mission is not to enforce arbitrary choices from its suppliers, but rather to rationalize NEP supply chains by defining “Carrier Grade Base Platforms” that NEPs can use to build better “Network Elements” for its customers.

To better understand the full “scope” of the SCOPE Alliance's work, have a look at its documents index, here. Or, for a good overall of its mission, find the newly updated position paper, here.

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