The Service Availability Forum Delivers First Open Specification For Carrier-Grade Infrastructure Development

10/9/2002 - The Service AvailabilityTM Forum, an industry coalition of premier communications and computing companies, announced the availability of the Service Availability Forum Platform Interface specification. This is the industry's first open interface specification for carrier-grade platform and middleware that helps tie together all standards-based network equipment elements.

"The release of the SA Forum Platform Interface Specification is a crucial step for the delivery of cost-effective, carrier-grade infrastructure solutions," said Ari Virtanen, Nokia's VP & Director of Network Platforms. "As a member of the Service Availability Forum, Nokia supports open interfaces and sees the Forum's specification as furthering the development of the industry's shift to the use of COTS building blocks in delivering best of breed, carrier-grade solutions in a timely manner."

The computing and communications industries are evolving from a proprietary to an open, "building block" development environment in an effort to lower costs and reduce development time. Aimed at companies working to address the development transition from proprietary models to standard, modular development, the Forum's specification also represents an opportunity for companies to focus increased resources on innovation and product differentiating efforts.

"The Yankee Group's surveys with Tier 1 service providers indicated that adherence to industry standards and speed of implementation are the top two decision making criteria for choosing vendors for their networks. For the vendors that have traditionally offered proprietary products, delivering on those criteria is easy to say, but difficult to achieve," said Christin Flynn, director of communications network infrastructure, The Yankee Group. "The SA Forum's Platform Interface specification will arm vendors with the tools to successfully execute on these requirements."

The SA Forum Platform Interface specification is an interface between the operating system or hardware platform and the Service Availability middleware. This key interface within the telecom equipment stack decouples high availability hardware and software. Companies implementing the SA Forum Platform Interface specification will use it to set-up, monitor (MTBF) and perform fault recovery (MTTR) of network equipment solutions. Membership of the Forum is representative of companies interested in implementing the specification, and includes equipment providers, high availability middleware providers, operating system vendors and platform providers.

"The adoption of the SA Forum Platform Interface specification will impact everyone from service providers to equipment manufacturers by enabling lower deployment costs and reduced time to market," stated Chau Pham, vice president and director of technology, Motorola Computer Group. "Motorola is dedicated to open standards and will integrate the Service Availability specification into future products to leverage the inherent benefits of a standards-based, modular development environment."

A significant cost in the development of proprietary carrier-grade solutions is dedicated to developing interfaces to interoperate with a variety of redundant subsystems and applications. The communications industry has taken steps to reduce these costs and resources through the development of carrier-grade COTS solutions through the Service Availability Forum and in other open standards initiatives such as PICMG, a consortium of over 600 companies who collaboratively develop open specifications for high performance telecommunications and industrial computing applications. The Service Availability Forum has worked closely with PICMG and other standards organizations to advance this industry effort to promote the adoption of standards-based network equipment components.

"PICMG shares a common vision with the Service Availability Forum of an open platform for high availability applications. In fact, we have been engaged for over five years in the definition of hardware and low-level platform management architectures to support this vision," said Joe Pavlat, PICMG President. "The AdvancedTCA architecture, as defined by PICMG 3.0 specification, is being developed by many of the same companies involved in the definition of the SA Forum Platform Interface specification. PICMG's upcoming specification includes a reference to the SA Forum Platform Interface specification in the design guide and a shelf-management architecture intended to support the Service Availability Forum's announced specification."

SA Forum Specification Availability
Interested parties may view, download and implement the released SA Forum Platform Interface specification after signing a "Specification License" agreement. The license is free of charge.

Initially, an "Adopter Self-Certification Program with Disclosure" will be utilized to drive effective implementation of the specifications. Usage licensors will use a Web-based template to disclose their methodology of compliance, detailing their test plan, setup, test script, and compiler details. This open process will encourage participants to use great care in verifying compliance, enable repeatable testing, and allow for industry test suite sharing. The SA Forum Product Registry site can be found at: Companies using this process can state that they are "SA Forum Registered". The Forum intends to develop a more formal process for compliance certification to be determined in 2003.

The SA Forum Platform Interface specification is just the first step; the Service Availability Forum plans to release SA Forum Application Interface specifications early next year.

About the Service Availability Forum
The Service Availability Forum is the industry body dedicated to developing specifications that facilitate the faster delivery of cost-effective, carrier-grade infrastructure equipment and applications. Created by industry leading communications and computing companies, the Forum's specifications represent a crucial, missing piece of the COTS ecosystem model - open, carrier-grade platform and middleware interfaces that tie together all standards-based network equipment elements quickly and easily. Service Availability Forum membership offers the opportunity to take part in building the availability specifications for the future.

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