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Red Hat Launches Major Telecommunications Effort

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Seeing an opportunity to expand the use of Linux in telecommunications,

Red Hat

is launching a telecommunications partner program.

While the world's top Linux software developer isn't adding additional personnel for the effort, a team is focused on that space, said Caroline Kazmierski, a spokesperson for Red Hat.

"A team has been working on this for some time," said Kazmierski. "This is more of a concerted area to get us into this space."

Development of telecommunications software applications has not been a point of emphasis before, she added.

"Open source software is fantastic for this application," she said, "but it has taken us a little longer to focus on telecommunications."

In another telecommunications software pact also announced this week, Nortel and Microsoft signed a four-year development contract.

"There is a substantial revenue opportunity for network applications," Kazmierski said. "We want to make sure (telecom vendors and developers) know about open source and particularly that Red Hat is catering to them."

Red Hat's Telecommunications Partner Program is designed to both raise awareness about and adoption of Red Hat Linux solutions. Red Hat plans to focus its efforts on network equipment providers, original equipment manufacturers, and telecommunications independent software developers.

In an interview with internetnews.com, Scott Crenshaw, senior director of product management and marketing at Red Hat, said the time is right for wide adoption of Linux in telecommunications.

"There are no barriers to pervasive enterprise Linux adoption in telecom today," he said.

"If you go back a few years, the situation was much different: Telcos were just beginning to evaluate Linux; the ISV community was more limited; and integrated Linux hardware and software platforms targeting the specific needs of telcos weren't available."

Partners already committed to the telecommunications effort include HP and IBM. Red Hat said it would work with both firms to build "carrier-grade" equipment with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The partners will position the open-source gear as an alternative to proprietary telecommunications platforms.

Red Hat, HP and IBM are not alone in making this effort. For example, earlier this month, Motorola launched a line of servers for the telecom market equipped with Monta Vista Carrier Grade Linux. And Texas Instruments is a new member of the Linux Phone Standards Forum.

As part of its effort, Red Hat also plans to provide services and support to software developers to encourage them to adopt open source alternatives.

"The Telecommunications Partner Program brings together members of the telecommunications ecosystem to accelerate the delivery of reliable, high-performance solutions that substantially reduce capital cost and operating expenses for service providers," said Tim Yeaton, senior vice president of worldwide marketing and general manager of enterprise products for Red Hat. "Our strong partnerships with the hardware (original equipment manufacturers), network equipment providers and the (independent software vendor) community are helping to drive our range of software deeper into the network data center."

Red Hat wants to deliver telecommunications solutions that meet carrier performance standards that are also faster and more cost efficient than proprietary solutions, the company said.

HP is increasing emphasis on open source solutions as well.

"HP offers a broad array of solutions in the communications, media and entertainment markets for both carrier-grade and enterprise deployments," said Christine Martino, vice president of Open Source and Linux Organization at HP, in a statement. "HP is winning in these converging markets by offering customers more choice through the HP Advanced Open Telecom Platform. This includes integrated, open-source efforts developed with partners like Red Hat."

Red Hat's new effort is starting from a base that already includes more than 100 telecommunications software vendors. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is also included in products from eight telecom equipment providers.

IBM, which partners with Red Hat on other projects as well, will include Red Hat applications as part of its Platform for Telecom initiative.

"Solutions based on industry-standard hardware and Linux are gaining momentum in the telecommunications industry as a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to expensive proprietary platforms," said Scott Handy, vice president, of Worldwide Linux and Open Source at IBM. "IBM is pleased to partner with Red Hat to build carrier-grade platforms and solutions with IBM's Platform For Telecom (IPT) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux."