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Deploy your apps to market quickly

Posted: 03 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pre-integrated systems? time-to-market strategies? bring application to market quickly?

Telecom infrastructure development is moving into a third phase of infrastructure development: the shift to pre-integrated systems that include high availability middleware, protocol stacks, unified management and hardware platforms. These systems offer a quick path to market since the equipment manufacturer develops only the application that runs on the system.

The first phase of infrastructure development had telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs) using a vertically-integrated approach: designing their own silicon, building custom chassis and boards, and writing all of the software in the system.

The second phase of infrastructure development was marked by a shift to the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) model where the individual blades and software modules are procured from different vendors and integrated together by the TEM. The COTS model offers an improvement in time-to-market and lower development costs but is not without problems.

This desire for even quicker time-to-market has given rise to a third model, the pre-integrated system. Pre-integrated systems feature a comprehensive software stack built on a standards-based hardware platform, designed and tuned for particular network elements.

Here are some strategies to ensure that the time-to-market advantage is preserved.

? Understand how applications should integrate onto the platform. Every platform makes assumptions about how applications should integrate onto the platform. These assumptions affect whether the platform is a good fit for the pplication, and trying to shoe-horn an application that violates the assumptions is a recipe for disaster.

? Understand the support model for the various system components.

? Take advantage of the vendor's ability to provide professional services to accelerate development.

? Ensure that the system is standards-compliant. Vendors are always tempted to create customer lock-in by making aspects of the system proprietary. Insist that the system conform to standards wherever they existthis ensures that the system can be evolved over multiple generations while preserving the advantages of a pre-integrated system to get the initial products to market.

?Probe the high availability strategy for the system. High availability is the most complex portion of an integrated system, as availability must be ensured for the application itself, the protocol stacks, system management components, databases, network links and blades. Understanding how the different elements are synchronized and managed together is vital to ensure the overall application availability targets can be met.

? Give in to the temptation to customize the platform with third party cards (especially in the first generation). When first working with an integrated platform, the engineer inside all of us is tempted to try and improve the platform by integrating in some new card that has just come on the market ("just one little change"). Invariably, this leads to delays in the project as the new card must be integrated, tested and reworked to fit into the system framework.

? Worry about the platform cost for the initial generation. Instead, worry about getting the application to market. In general, bringing a product to market quickly more than offsets any higher initial cost for the pre-integrated system, and the ability to quickly swap in new blades as new silicon becomes available allows the application to quickly drop the cost per user as new silicon becomes ready every 12 or 18 months.

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