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TINA-C and OMG Specifications Open Telecom Equipment Markets to Lower Costs and Faster Service Deployment

Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, and Sprint Operate Trial System that Validates CORBA-based Implementation of the TINA-C Architecture


April 29 1998, Framingham, MA – In a drive to reduce equipment costs and speed the development of new services, telecommunications carriers are accelerating their transition toward open, non-proprietary platforms for computing and telecom switching. In a move that will accelerate this transition, the Object Management Group (OMG) and the Telecommunications Information Networking Architecture Consortium (TINA-C) have formalized a collaborative agreement to promote common specifications for emerging hybrid computing/telecommunications solutions. A trial system, based on the specifications, is being tested by Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, and Sprint. It is the first transcontinental demonstration of interconnectivity across various carrier systems and across a mix of computing and telecommunications technologies.


"One of the most important industry trends today is the unbundling of telecom switching hardware from software," said Dr. Deb K. Guha, Chief Executive Officer of TINA-C. "In the past, when telecom carriers bought switches to run their network, they had no choice but to buy a combined package from a single equipment supplier. But traditional switching software interoperates through signaling protocols such as SS7, which are primitive compared to what’s possible with open systems. The industry is looking to OMG’s CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) to solve the incompatibility issues between switching systems."


William R. Hoffman, President and COO of OMG, added, "The convergence of IT and telecom technologies will create a more flexible architecture through which carriers can add new services and features not possible previously. Competition is driving carriers to offer customers a greater choice of services, including web integration, online billing, and more. Software is key to these services. The common specifications developed by OMG and TINA-C will allow more feature-rich software to enter the marketplace and ensure its interoperability."


CORBA establishes a middleware layer above the operating system so that software applications become independent of the hardware and operating system. "In essence, CORBA gives the telecom industry a single, universal operating system," said Dr. Hendrik Berndt, Chief Technology Officer-designee of TINA-C. "The TINA architecture builds on CORBA to provide a flexible service architecture based on the session concept. This allows carriers to efficiently separate concerns related to service access, delivery, and connectivity."


OMG and TINA-C have collaborated for several years to ensure alignment of strategies and efforts. Today, the organizations announced an expanded, more-formal relationship, in which an OMG staff member will participate in TINA-C committees and a TINA-C member will participate in OMG technical committees, including those within the telecommunications domain. The two groups may further expand their relationship in the future.


Global One Alliance Validates TINA and CORBA Specifications


The Global One Alliance, a joint venture of Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, and Sprint, is currently conducting a trial that validates a CORBA-based implementation of the TINA-C architecture. The system supports advanced services including: call completion, universal access, and group communications. The trial is scheduled to run through the end of 1998.


According to Berndt, who until recently served as Executive Director of Advanced Technology at Global One, all of the services run on the same infrastructure and share a set of computational objects. Universal access allows users to reach their global service environment and services from anywhere in the world for the cost of a local call. Call completion employs intelligent user agents to successfully reach a user by office phone, wireless phone, or via an Internet account. Group communication services include video conferencing and joint document editing facilities.


A dedicated kernel transport network integrates the different carriers’ PBX systems and programmable switches. The kernel transport network uses ATM and ISDN networks for trans-Atlantic connectivity and LAN technologies at the edges of the network.


"The CORBA specifications from OMG complement the TINA architecture, which together enable us to provide seamless services on an extensible platform, and exceptional user and service mobility," said Berndt.


Such progress in open systems is of enormous importance to telecom carriers, who no longer want to be locked into a single manufacturer. "History has shown that open markets create new opportunities," explained Guha. "Ultimately, we can expect more innovation from the equipment manufacturers, faster overall industry growth, and more freedom for the carriers to meet the expanding needs of their customers."


About TINA-C

Formed in 1992, TINA-C is an association of more than 40 of the world’s largest telecom network providers, telecom equipment suppliers, and computing vendors. Member companies work together to define a common software architecture to support an open telecommunications and information software component marketplace. Existing TINA specifications enable network providers to easily create new services, including advanced multimedia and information services, and to manage services and networks.


About OMG

OMG establishes specifications for distributed computing based on the input of more than 800 member companies including major software providers, computer systems vendors, and technology end-users. OMG’s mission is to extend its primary middleware specification, CORBA, into major vertical industries. The telecommunications industry – which oversees the world’s largest distributed application – represents one of the fastest growing segments of the OMG membership and is a major user of the CORBA specifications.