I think there is a boom waiting to happen.It starts by seeing wireless networking as a platform on which you build applications. That can happen when your Wi-Fi access point is built with a robust, scalable, modular operating system, like Linux. It can't happen when the access point is built with the same operating system that runs, say, your car radio or TV remote. Yet that is just what is happening. VxWorks from Wind River is kicking embedded Linux in the access point market.Why? It has to do with the way such gear is built. The Asian OEMs who build access points don't want an operating system. They want a reference design. They can build off a reference design. They have to design with an operating system.Chipmakers who offer reference designs win the confidence of these OEMs. The gear that results from this process carries the lowest possible price. And all else being equal price is what sells. It's a vicious circle. And until someone breaks through wireless networking will be a point solution, not a platform. Who will break through this? It could well be Wind River. Today Wind River tales the wraps off its PNE Linux Edition. By the time it ships early next year Wind River expects it to be compliant with with Version Two of the OSDL's Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) specification.For devices running this solution VxWorks will still be the Real Time Operating System (RTOS) on the data plane, but Linux will be used on the control plane, and developers will have tools for connecting the two.Assuming the biggest Wind River chip customers migrate to PNE Linux Edition, devices like access points should be ready to migrate as well, perhaps in early 2006, from being point solutions that are what they are to being real platforms you can build on.I hope so, anyway.
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