After years of severe downturn in business activity, the communications industry is now embracing standards based Modular Communications Platforms (MCPs) as a way to improve profitability while the market recovers. Eclipsing traditionally closed, proprietary communications systems, the adoption of MCPs promises Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs) and Service Providers (SPs) smaller initial outlays and reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), while at the same time making it easier to develop and run applications. The MCP paradigm is rooted in several industry-wide standards initiatives, and spans a broad ecosystem of building blocks including silicon, boards, chassis, operating systems, middleware, applications, and more.

Historically, the shift toward hardware modularity began with Rack-Mounted Servers (RMSs) that were optimized for compute-centric applications in enterprise networks and back-office systems. To accommodate the extreme requirements of central office environments, however, a more flexible, reliable, modular, scalable, and higher performance approach was needed. Thus, the concept of a “bladed shelf” was born. Recently, the industry represented in the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) standardized a bladed form factor in a series of specifications known as AdvancedTCA.

AdvancedTCA takes a holistic approach to High Availability (HA) and five 9s (99.999%) reliability required in carrier-grade equipment through the integration of features for resiliency, redundancy, serviceability, and manageability. AdvancedTCA also lays a solid foundation for scalability of system performance and capacity, so that application processors, network processors, Digital Signal Processor (DSP) boards, and storage boards can be hot-swapped on demand with guaranteed interoperability, maintainability, and reliability. With its high emphasis on low-cost manufacturing, AdvancedTCA-based platforms will lower the cost of network elements.