Targeting a wireless industry with complicated network management needs, Sun Microsystems Inc. said it has introduced its Solstice family of products to wireless manufacturers and operators as an easier way to manage their networks.

Sun said it plans to offer network management via software-based solutions that combine centralized and distributed computing control and support open standard-based protocols. Sun’s Solstice products decrease the complexity of managing extensive networks and lower operating costs, according to the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

As the cellular industry grew in the 1980s, infrastructure equipment manufacturers naturally led technology directives for the community, explained Doug Ehrenreich, director of telecommunications and cable market development at Sun. Each company produced its own equipment technologies-requiring service carriers to amend their networks to accommodate various standards. This required building a platform to manage each new protocol and a terminal for each new platform, which made it expensive to monitor operations, Sun said.

Moreover, managing these complex and robust systems required the power of now-outdated central mainframe computers. In an expansive network, mainframes are costly and central control is limiting for local sites, Ehrenreich commented. Distributed computing, on the other hand, allows different switching devices to be integrated and graphically presents meaningful data-as opposed to status codes-across a network, he added.

Today’s wireless climate is marked by deregulation, evolving technologies and growing competition among services, propelling the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Telecommunications Industry Association to advocate open standards-based technologies, Ehrenreich said.

Manufacturers want to avoid duplicating services that result from building a new platform for every new application and instead invest in customer service, offering quality products at low cost and enhanced services. Carriers, computer companies, manufacturers and others are forming relationships to “define a path” for the future using “one architecture and one platform,” he added.

A number of elements, including switches and base stations, comprise a wireless network, said Ehrenreich. Solstice’s magic is its capability to determine how each element’s proprietary data is stored, define it, then combine all defined elements-originating from different manufacturers and protocols-to work concurrently on one platform. In the larger picture, this platform of defined elements makes it easier to integrate systems in extensive networks.

Sun has has garnered contracts with a multitude of telecommunications companies. Equipment manufacturers, service carriers and telephone companies are some of Sun’s chief customers, Ehrenreich said.

Sun recently announced Solstice will serve as a core application platform around which Motorola Inc.’s Cellular Infrastructure Group will design open network management tools. Motorola’s new Telecommunications Management Network is based on Solstice. Motorola said it also intends to migrate its proprietary network management products to an open environment incorporating standard protocols and interfaces.

Ericsson Business Networks AB recently said it will begin using Sun Microsystems Computer Co.’s SunXTL software with its private branch exchange product, MD110PBX, to provide its customers use of enhanced services like desktop call routing and predictive dialing.


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