At the end of May I had the opportunity to present at the MicroTCA Summit which took place in Chantilly Virginia. This is the premier opportunity for vendors, customers and other interested parties to get together for a few days to review product and adoption progress for the increasingly popular MicroTCA standard. For those who are not familiar with MicroTCA, it is an open standard using mainly postcard sized modules in a rack system. What makes MicroTCA different is that the underlying management and connectivity are derived from the highly robust AdvancedTCA standard and so enjoys an IP centric control architecture with the flexibility to add additional fabric interfaces to suit applications.
MicroTCA is a relatively new standard (it was ratified mid 2006) and there are still many opportunities for education. Like all new standards, one key question is whether the necessary building blocks are available and will work easily together – after all one of the key tenets of an open standard is that it allows customers to pick and mix components to get a best in class solution.
The highlight for me, and also many visitors judging by the comments I heard was the multi-vendor interop workshop. Consisting of 4 different chassis and a multitude of AMC modules, this was one of the first public demonstrations of the growing confidence and maturity in this standard. All the chassis and modules were managed by the Spiderware M3 product from Emerson Network Power to graphically show the element status and other detailed information whilst the AMC modules were running video streaming applications.
As a vendor, we always like to demonstrate our own latest and greatest products and I’m sure we’ll continue to do that. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the real value to our customers of choosing an open standard architecture like MicroTCA that interoperates correctly and so I expect that this will be a model for future coopetition.