Broadband Access Likes Linux for IP Switches

Cable-modem termination system vendor Broadband Access Systems Inc. today is expected to announce that its carrier-class "Cuda-12000" Internet-protocol access switch has become the first CMTS/routing platform to integrate Linux-based servers.

In addition to boosting system security and flexibility, BAS said the move will eliminate the need for cable operators to install separate subscriber-management systems.

BAS plans to do that by running its "Cuda Provisioning Manager" and its "Cuda View" network-management software on those Linux systems, which reside on the end of the Cuda-12000 platform.

The company intends to submit the Cuda-12000 to Cable Television Laboratories Inc. for the first Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 1.1 certification and qualification wave on Oct. 23. CableLabs qualified BAS' box for DOCSIS 1.0 in May.

By combining the Cuda-12000 chassis with Linux modules, cable operators "won't need those extra (subscriber-management system) boxes in many cases," said BAS vice president of marketing and business development Mark Komanecky. "The last thing a cable operator needs is another box in the network."

Those Linux-based provisioning systems are expected to help cable operators minimize truck rolls, enable their cable-modem users to select from multiple ISPs in an "open-access" environment and choose different levels of data speeds.

Typically, those value-added elements are not contained within legacy CMTSs, Komanecky said. BAS' competitors use external UNIX or Windows NT boxes for subscriber management and provisioning, he noted.

The addition of Linux servers also allows cable operators to re-use all of the upstream ports on a DOCSIS module, increasing upstream frequency usage efficiency and frequency-band allocation for data services, BAS said.

Though the Linux servers run on a hard disk and can be configured for redundant capabilities, they will not affect the box's carrier-class status or wire-speed data and voice-packet switching capabilities, Komanecky said.

"I don't want to give the impression that Linux is the only software running on our system, because that could be considered as something that's unreliable," he said. "Both systems are in (the Cuda-1200) for specific reasons."

While the Linux blades will support provisioning, subscriber-management information and other value-added applications, the rest of the chassis' modules will separately handle the real-time applications that run over the DOCSIS, SONET (synchronous-optical network), Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet platforms, Komanecky added.

For example, if the hard disk on a Linux server should fail, the module can be swapped out without affecting the rest of the system, he said.

Since Linux is an open operating system, BAS expects its new release will provide cable operators with something they are familiar with. Other internal systems that run over UNIX or Solaris are similar in terms of usability and commands.

Though Linux is relatively new in the CMTS sphere, it is gaining some support in digital set-top circles, as well.

For example, Emperor System Software got some attention at the 1999 Western Show when it bowed two Linux-based products: "Studio" for network equipment such as headend-based video servers, and "Lava," a Linux-based operating system that is combined with Java software for set-top boxes.

Because Linux is an open OS, the idea behind using it for set-tops is to make it easier for developers to create one application that runs on several iterations of digital boxes.