• November 17, 2006
  • Linux

Red Hat is NOT Carrier-Grade Linux

There was a very interesting announcement
yesterday from Red Hat regarding a collaboration with Nokia for carrier
grade server systems. The most interesting thing I noticed about this
news was how the term “Carrier Grade Linux” was not mentioned once in
the entire document. There were several mentions of Carrier Grade
Servers – it even went so far as calling them Enterprise Servers, but
not one mention of Carrier Grade Linux.

One of the really beneficial things about standards like the OSDL’s Carrier Grade Linux
is that they exemplify the very best practices in open source. Carrier
Grade Linux is an open specification that 6 different Linux vendors
have compliance with. This compliance delivers the promised value of
open source: avoiding monopoly, delivering a level playing field and
avoiding vendor lock-in. Funny thing that Red Hat is the only major
Linux vendor that is not participating in the Carrier Grade Linux
standards effort. I guess if you consider yourself the Microsoft of the
Linux world, then you might falsely think that you ARE the standard. I
like to believe that logic always prevails and Red Hat might do well to
think through this premise: if you are NOT supporting the accepted
standards than you must be NON-STANDARD!

What exactly does this collaboration amount to then? Good question. My
guess is that  Red Hat is simply packaging its enterprise server
together with Nokia’s Carrier Grade hardware and claiming to have a
telecommunications solution. Last time I checked there were a lot of
telecommunications solutions that are based on PowerPC processors and
processors from MIPS licensees like Broadcom, Cavium and
others. Umm. I wonder how those solutions can run “server” Linux? The
takeaway here is that there is a big difference between “server” Linux
and Carrier Grade Linux –  but with this announcement, Red Hat is
trying very hard to pull the wool over this little fact.

I guess if you have a very rigid server architecture based strictly on
an Intel-based processor and you don’t modify or customize the software
at all, then it is probably reasonable to use an inflexible, rigid
operating system that is not based on Telecommunications standards. For
the rest of us, I think we’ll continue to drive best open source
practices and participate in the Carrier Grade Linux standards effort.
This collaboration allows companies to leverage Carrier Grade Linux
across multiple processors and device types and thus delivers the true
promise of open source; product re-use, no vendor lock-in and standards
based.