Linux Continues to Displace RTOSs: Enea Signs Deal to Move Customer from OSE to Linux
Embedded Linux has been taking market share from realtime operating systems (RTOSs) since its emergence back in the late 1990s. Lured by the promise of control, vendor independence, a massive ecosystem and a large body of trained engineers, embedded systems manufacturers began experimenting with and deploying Linux as soon as it was practicable.
This move was especially prevalent in the telecom and networking markets where the RTOS had ruled both hard and soft realtime processing in communications equipment. Telecom equipment manufacturers quickly figured out they could move their control plane software to Linux and not miss the RTOS at all. The RTOS would remain in the data plane for the time being. Processor vendors began to offer their own distributions, MontaVista Software, Wind River Systems and others launched commercial Linux distributions targeting the telecom market – the shift was on.
Today Linux dominates the control plane and simple executives are increasingly called on to perform packet processing functionally in the data plane of network equipment. Specialized multicore network processors are displacing other hardware technologies and their vendors often have their own software enablement strategies. Competition for the software layer in telecom has never been more heated.
The larger and more established TEMs had massive investments in application software, libraries, codecs and other software that they could not just toss away. Many of them were held captive by their RTOS investments, one of the critical selling points of an open source solution like Linux, and short of rewriting their code, moving to Linux in a major way would be an insurmountable obstacle. New projects not relying on legacy code could be started but the TEMs where (are) still stuck with lots of projects on RTOSs. For one major TEM that might be changing.
Linux and RTOS vendor Enea has announced that it has signed a license agreement with a global telecommunications equipment manufacturer to deliver the operating systems Enea Linux and Enea OSE together with an OSE Compatibility Platform for running OSE applications on Linux. The total value of the agreement is estimated at $3 million over four years.
The TEM, who builds optical switching equipment, has a major software investment in applications built using the Enea OSE RTOS, but is now moving to Linux in its system architecture. The OSE Compatibility Platform essentially becomes a technology bridge securing the customer’s software investment.
Enea worked with Linux for years with a professional services offering, but in March 2012 announced a Yocto-based Linux distribution along with some complementary technologies addressing the realtime processing needs of TEMs including:
- The Enea Light-Weight Runtime Threads (LWRT) technology provides improved realtime characteristics in Linux user-space, delivering scheduling, message passing, and resource management functionality.
- The Enea Packet Acceleration foundation (PAX) is a modular, graph structured framework designed for high performance HW-accelerated packet processing. It is suited to IP transport-related solutions such as vertically integrated SCTP or GTP termination for RAN nodes.
With this package in place it now makes sense for Enea to offer its customers The OSE Compatibility Platform which provides select OSE capabilities and interfaces in the Linux programming environment including Enea Inter Process Communications (IPC), OSE file systems, etc.), which enable existing and new applications to use both OSE and Linux programming interfaces at the same time.
Anders Lidbeck, President and CEO, Enea said: “We are happy that this key customer expands its trust in Enea and extends an increasing business in our favor. The customer is pioneering the OSE Compatibility Platform that allows them, and other industry leaders, to re-use existing code base and keep the architecture intact while minimizing time to market, porting effort and costs.”
The reality is the market and customers would be moving Linux regardless, the value proposition is just too strong – offering its customers a pathway to retain their investments allows Enea the best chance to retain those customers in the long term.