We in the embedded industry like to slice and dice markets by application, technology, customers, and any other way that tells a story. When we look at ATCA as a server offering we have to ask ourselves "why ATCA?" and what features make it attractive in certain applications and unattractive in others. Part of my role is to ask this question of the industry and drive action based on the answer. Since telecom equipment providers defined the standard, there's clearly a fit in that market. But what about other markets? What I am increasingly seeing is that ATCA fits into applications that provide mission critical services, are bill-per-minute, or address security or highly secure communications.
At least two of these characteristics apply to government and military communications. In addition to servicing mission critical and highly secure communications, designers of military and government networks need to leverage commercial technologies while maintaining the ability to meet the unique needs of the military. ATCA is a highly available, yet off-the-shelf technology. (One major telecom equipment provider recently reported to us that they have had zero downtime to date in its first generation ATCA deployments. ) It has centralized, redundant management based on the IPMI standard and the ability for multi-shelf management. System monitoring and failure detection are built-in and automated. ATCA has highly flexible I/O capability and broad processor choices which enable it to meet both legacy and next-generation networking needs with the same system. It is relatively rugged, having been designed to meet NEBS, and therefore is much closer to military requirements than commercial servers. Will government and military markets be the next big win for ATCA?