January 30, 2002 4:20 PM PST

Telecom giants join Linux effort

NEW YORK--Several telecommunications companies have begun an effort to improve Linux for their own market, an offshoot of a project geared toward making Linux beefier for high-end servers.

Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and NEC founded the Open Source Development Lab in 2000 to improve Linux on powerful servers. Now Alcatel, Cisco Systems and Nokia have joined the organization and become members of an advisory group seeking to define what exactly is needed in a "carrier-grade" Linux server designed for telecommunications use.

The move bolsters efforts by Hewlett-Packard to create software and hardware specifically for telecommunications companies that require rigorous Network Equipment Building Standard (NEBS) compatible systems. Such computers must withstand severe conditions, such as the extreme heat of flames, and must be able to be grouped in "clusters" that collectively ensure computing services remain available even when a server in the cluster fails.

HP, IBM, Red Hat and SuSE also are on the telecommunications advisory board. So is MontaVista Software, a Linux software company that's focusing on telecommunications as one of its two key markets.

By the time the OSDL got under way in 2001, other members had signed up, including Dell Computer, Computer Associates, Hitachi and SGI. Linux companies including Red Hat, SuSE, Turbolinux and Caldera International also became members.

OSDL also has spawned an advisory group that will define what's needed for use in data centers--the carefully controlled rooms packed with servers that companies can't afford to have crash.


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