SuSE unveils Carrier Grade Linux

SuSE Linux AG is launching its Carrier Grade Linux operating system for the telecommunications market, and IBM Corp. has announced the opening of its Linux Competency Centre in London to give business leaders a place to see Linux in action in the enterprise.

Nuremburg, Germany-based SuSE's Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) debut this week as the first standards-based Linux customized for the special needs of voice, data and wireless applications. The new operating system is based on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, which is built on UnitedLinux.

CGL is available free as a service pack to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 customers that also have maintenance agreements. It is available now.

The CGL project has been in the works since January 2002 as an initiative of the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) in Beaverton, Ore., to create open standards for the construction of a Linux operating system specifically for the needs of the telecommunications industry. The goal is a scalable, modular communications operating system that would allow telecommunications companies to reduce their costs and increase performance. The OSDL CGL project includes participation from major vendors, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp.

Although SuSE is the first large Linux vendor to complete its CGL product, others, including U.S. server market leader Red Hat Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., are preparing their own CGL versions for release later this year.

"This is a breakthrough product that we expect will quickly become the preferred platform of many customers," Richard Seibt, SuSE's CEO, said in a statement. "Given the current high cost structures and harsh market conditions, customers demand an adaptable solution that offers cost efficiency, standardization and reusability. Developed initially for telecom, the promise of CGL has attracted attention of businesses in many different industries -- including financial and retail."

The specialized CGL includes improved high-availability features for error detection and rapid fail-over for the operating system, applications, Ethernet and disks, as well as enhancements for faster problem determination, including system memory dumping, system probes and tracing. Also featured are improved scalability and performance, along with IP Version 6 RFCs compliance for next-generation network support and MIPv6 RFCs compliance for mobile computers and devices.

Bill Claybrook, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, said SuSE's CGL version is expected to provide significant price/performance advantages over existing RISC hardware and Unix operating systems now used in the telecommunications market. "It opens up the market for a lot of people," Claybrook said. "They have more options now," including Linux on less-expensive Advanced Micro Devices Inc.- or Intel-based hardware. "It's going to change the whole landscape."

Al Gillen, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the significance of the SuSE release is that the telecommunications market, for years the territory of Unix providers, is now being targeted by Linux vendors. "That's really what OSDL was created for, to help drive these specific Linux market segments," Gillen said. By adding features needed by telecommunications companies, CGL can now challenge the traditional Unix vendors for business in a specialized area, he said.

IBM's announcement today of its latest Linux Competency Center is aimed at potential customers in the financial markets as a way to showcase Linux for a wide range of business users.

The Linux Centre for Financial Services in London will provide financial services and banking firms with a hands-on environment to test and deploy Linux-based systems that include a range of IBM hardware, software and services, as well as industry-specific applications, said the company.

IBM already has a Linux Center of Competence for Wall Street that it opened in New York last year to provide potential customers with hands-on experience with Linux in the U.S.

The centers are equipped with the latest IBM hardware and software, from zSeries mainframes to servers and WebSphere and DB2 applications.

"The common thread that links all of these centers together is the viability of Linux for businesses in a variety of different industries," Jim Stallings, general manager of IBM Linux, said in a statement.

Other similar facilities exist in Germany, where IBM has its E-Government Center and a Linux Integration Center, and in the United Arab Emirates, where the company has an Energy Competency Center. In China, IBM has a Linux Solution Cooperation Center, and in Singapore, IBM has an Open Computing Center in cooperation with Nanyang Polytechnic Center.

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