About Carrier Grade Linux

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Traditionally, communications and data service networks were built on proprietary platforms that had to meet very specific requirements in areas such as availability, reliability, performance, and service response time. Those proprietary systems were composed of highly-purposed hardware, operating system, middleware, and often included proprietary technologies and interfaces. Such proprietary approaches to system architecture fostered vendor lock-in, very served to limit design flexibility and freedom, and produced platforms that were and are very expensive to maintain and expand. Today, those same service providers and carriers are challenged to drive down costs while still maintaining carrier class characteristics for platforms to provide service and mission critical applications in an all-IP environment. They are in a position today where they must move away from specialized proprietary architectures, and towards commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) approaches and building practices. As a result, proprietary legacy systems no longer offer a viable approach. They are expensive to buy, maintain, and scale. As a result, the industry is moving away from specialized proprietary systems toward open platforms that are based on industry established standards and common practices.

Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) stands at the center of the move to open architectures. The initiative started with the vision that communication services will be delivered using open standard carrier grade platforms. A Linux kernel with Carrier Grade characteristics is an essential building block component of such platforms and architectures. Since its formation, the working group has produced three versions of a specification to define these required capabilities. In response, Linux distribution suppliers are now demonstrating that they can meet the emerging needs of telecommunications by registering (disclosing publicly) how their Linux-based software platform products address the requirements as defined in the Carrier Grade Linux Requirements Definition.

Today, the CGL working group has grown to include over three dozen representatives from platform vendors, Linux distribution suppliers, network equipment providers, carriers and development community members worldwide. This expanded group has now released the Carrier Grade Linux Requirements Definition version 4.0. For clarity and ease of use, the specification has been split into seven separate topical documents: Availability, Clusters, Serviceability, Performance, Standards, Hardware, and Security.