18 May 2011
Open Telecommunications Platform, OTP for Open Communications
Francesco Cesarini, Technical Director of Erlang Solutions, discusses the benefits of the Erlang Open Telecom Platform and how it can be used in product development for writing software for telecommunications systems.
Telecommunications technology headlines are dominated these days by new mobile devices and their operating systems. The steady evolutionary march of radio access standards also grabs column inches as too do the latest innovations in OSS/BSS solutions. Middleware developments seem to swing in under the media radar.
In fairness to the telco press, middleware developments can be bewildering and esoteric. Software development is perhaps not viewed as ‘telco’ so much as pure IT and so it is left to the very specialist press to cover innovations in the field. Middleware though is the unsung hero of telecommunications networks.
Choosing the right middleware can be the difference between an exciting new offering launching on budget and ahead of the rivals or damagingly late and ruinously expensive. With a wide variety of programming languages, such as Erlang, Java, C and C++ available, choosing the right middleware depends on a range of factors.
Erlang Programming Language
Erlang was originally invented by the Ericsson computer science lab as the programming language of choice for the next generation of telecom systems. While Erlang is a powerful programming language used to build distributed, fault tolerant systems with requirements of high availability, these complex systems require middleware in the form of reusable libraries, release, debugging and maintenance tools together with design principles and patterns used to style network architecture.
Ericsson realized this early and initiated a project to address issues in parallel with its first commercial project. Work began on the creation of the Open Telecom Platform, often referred to as OTP. Open, in this instance, stands for the openness of Erlang towards other programming languages, APIs and protocols. While Telecom was chosen when Erlang was only used internally within Ericsson for telecom products, years before it was released as open source. It might have made sense in the mid 90s, but today we say Telecom refers to the distributed, fault tolerant, massively concurrent soft real-time characteristics present in telecom systems, but valid in a wide range of other industry verticals. Platform refers to the use of OTP as middleware in complex systems.
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About the author
Francesco Cesarini is Technical Director of Erlang Solutions Ltd, a company specialised in high availability, massively concurrent soft real time systems. He has been programming Erlang since 1995 and was on the team who worked on the OTP R1 release. Francesco has worked with start-ups and blue chip companies alike helping them with all the aspects of Erlang based projects - from coding, reviews and architecture designs to setting up development centres. He has taught Erlang to hundreds of developers, testers, support staff and university students. He documented these experiences in Erlang Programming, a book published by O'Reilly Media in 1999. Francesco is also a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide and teaches graduates and undergraduates at the IT University of Gothenburg in Sweden and Oxford University in the UK.
Erlang Solutions specialises in supporting businesses with the creation, integration, delivery and lifetime support of products and services based on the Erlang programming language, from small developers to Fortune 500 corporations. Erlang Solutions is the only company of its kind totally focused on Erlang and the Erlang community, offering industry-leading research, development, training and worldwide support for businesses using Erlang. Erlang Solutions helps its customers to realise the potential of Erlang-based solutions, with all the inherent benefits offered by the shorter time to market, low lifetime cost, extreme reliability and scalability of Erlang. Erlang Solutions has offices in London, Stockholm and Krakow.
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