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Orange details Ubuntu-based appliance for small business

Orange has announced at its Orange Partner Camp in Cape Canaveral on Tuesday further details of its OpenAppliance platform for delivering IP-based services to SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) and SME users. Based on Ubuntu with Xen paravirtualisation, prototypes are expected to be ready for an open beta programme in the first quarter of that year, with a planned September launch date for the finished product.

Orange has announced at its Orange Partner Camp in Cape Canaveral on Tuesday further details of its OpenAppliance platform for delivering IP-based services to SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) and SME users. Based on Ubuntu with Xen paravirtualisation, prototypes are expected to be ready for an open beta programme in the first quarter of that year, with a planned September launch date for the finished product.

OpenAppliance will deliver PBX telephony and Unified Threat Management (UTM) services from what Orange calls 'branded bricks', software components created by Orange in conjunction with selected partners that run in privileged virtual machines (VMs) on the operating system. Third parties are expected to produce 'open bricks'; Java-based virtualised applications that can be installed independently of Orange. The system is OSGi framework compliant, a remotely-manageable open standard also adopted by IBM, Sun, Red Hat, and Nokia among others.

"It's a PC, but we're not going to tell the customer that," said Thierry Gaillet, Product Development, Strategic Marketing for Orange. "It will run five VMs and many Java VMs. We chose to use Xen and paravirtualisation for performance of the main functions, but the third-party Java applications will add many more features." He said that Orange was looking to add application server, network access control (NAC), storage, backup, building automation and video services through independent developers.

"The advantages are that there'll be a low total cost of ownership," he said, "with a pay-as-you-go approach to adding new functions that you can order from us or third parties. We've kept the user interface simple, and Orange will be providing first-line support." The system is intended to replace existing multiple hardware units in a single box, and will be distributed initially through Orange's enterprise channels.

UK distribution is not a priority, Gaillet said, with initial introduction in existing markets such as France and Spain, although he hoped that it would become available in Britain in 2010. Orange is also looking at retail distribution.