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Ericsson's Carrier-Grade Server Plan may Have the Solution for Virtualization Load

By Steve Anderson June 10, 2014

These days, software seems to be the focus of a lot of companies. Not without reason, either; more and more functions of a business can be reduced to software programs, some of which don't even need to be kept on the premises. Hosted Internet protocol (IP) telephony, hosted call center solutions, and a variety of other critical functions can be reduced to hosted status, so hardware kind of takes a backseat. But hardware still needs to be a part of the picture somewhere—can't run software on empty air, after all—and that's what makes Ericsson's new carrier-grade server particularly noteworthy.

Ericsson's chief technology officer Ulf Ewaldsson was keeping comparatively mum in terms of a time frame for this release, but Ewaldsson did make it clear why it existed in the first place. The primary function behind this server is to make sure that software performs as expected, with a particular eye toward keeping customers at network performance goals. Beyond that, however, it's also helping Ericsson with a particular goal of its own: to virtualize all of its own software by the end of the next two years, and deliver that software on the normal line of IT platforms. To do all that, meanwhile, Ericsson needed a better understanding of how hardware was going to work with such a proposition—to “understand the future of hardware,” as Ewaldsson put it—and that ultimately led to the decision to build a server. But it's not just a new server, as impressive as such a development is; Ericsson is reportedly also hard at work on a breed of hypervisor technology, powerful enough to back up even the ambitions of big names like AT&T.

This combination of new hardware tools developed should give Ericsson particular versatility in the market, allowing it to reach a wide variety of potential customers with differing levels of needs when it comes to getting processor power on a problem. The ultimate goal, at last report, focuses on the ability to compete in terms of sheer performance. Ewaldsson elaborated on this point, saying “They aren't going to compete on APIs, they are going to compete based on how well their networks perform. For a while now, the big telecom guys haven't been willing to share much, because they saw each other as competitors. Now, I think they realize the greater competitive threat is from outside telecom.”

Ewaldsson's projections make plenty of sense here. After all, it's impossible to have software without hardware on some front, and being prepared to make that hardware as impressive as need be to run the biggest and best in software is going to be extremely helpful. There's always going to be a market for hardware, even as the hardware market at the consumer level tends to shy away from the laptop and desktop—at least somewhat; there's still a market for those too, even if it's less than it once was—so being involved in that market should pay off long term. Granted, Ericsson's going to have plenty of competition in the hardware field, but when it comes to hardware the best performers commonly get the nod.

If Ericsson can bring out a powerful alternative and make it stick, it will likely ultimately find a market. Businesses run on performance, and the better a provider can maintain that performance, the more likely said provider is to find repeat customers when it comes time to upgrade or replace hardware.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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