Do plugfests provide answer for MicroTCA? -

Do plugfests provide answer for MicroTCA?

So Europe is finally getting its own MicroTCA Interoperability Workshop and maybe the timing could not be better. As expectations have gone down for full-sized the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) there is a feeling that the smaller form factor could be a winner of high volume business.

PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) Europe boasts that the testing conducted at the Schroff/Pentair facility in Straubenhardt, near Stuttgart, Germany will be in a protected, confidential environment, allowing participants to test and resolve any inconsistencies.

And as the first products hit the market and PICMG Europe and right to observe that interoperability is essential for multi-vendor products in one system need to be supported.

It would be great to be a fly-on-the-wall during one of these interoperability tests, is it totally cordial or do things get heated as the chassis hot up and things don't go as planned. Does anyone every fail the test or do they just withdraw their product to come back another day.

Of course no one every advertises that that failed to come up to the mark but I guess if they tried to fudge the issue their 'friends' (aka competitors) would no doubt be more than happy to set the record straight.

So is there a real need for the meetings. I guess that even the highest level of individual product testing cannot meet the demands of interoperability and no one would be silly enough to leave it till the products are being deployed in the field would they. Mind you there is a story that has a DC powered escalator being installed at Tottenham Court Road tube station in London only for the installers to establish that the nearest source of this power to be at the next station along the line, several hundred yards away.

There have been some unofficial plugfests in Europe already. Back in February Emerson provided MicroTCA system management and video conferencing demos showcasing interoperable blades from GE Fanuc, Interphase, Intel, Surf, SANBlaze, X-ES, and BittWare at 3GSM in Barcelona.

The U.S. is naturally ahead of the game with the first MicroTCA interoperability workshop held in September 2006 in Boston. This had been followed by a joint Communications Platforms Trade Association (CP-TA) and PICMG teaming up to host the first joint interoperability workshop in Chicago in June 2007. At this inaugural event, 70 participants from 25 companies were able to test their products in a protected environment.

I cannot wait to see what the level interest will be from companies in the European event and maybe there is someone out there who would like to share their experience of previous plugfests, we don't have to go through the rigmarole of meeting in an underground cap park – that dates me to the Watergate era – but we could maintain anonymity.

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