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Monday, March 06, 2006

Vyatta to Challange Cisco IOS and other Router Operating Systems

By Phil Hochmuth Linux and open source pros who have followed the developments of the eXtensible Open Router Platform (XORP) should get to know a bit of Sanskrit - the word Vyatta, in particular. Vyatta, which means "openness" in the ancient language, is also the name of a start-up that is promoting a commercial version of the XORP software. Created by Internet researchers, XORP was developed to test out new code for routers and network equipment. Based on this code, and some of its own tweaks and modifications, Vyatta recently released a beta version of its product - a downloadable CD image that can turn any Intel-based PC into a full-fledged (albeit full-fledged beta) version of a Cisco or Juniper WAN router. The CD image includes the XORP code, and a modified version of Linux, optimized to run as a router platform (superfluous packages removed, and loose security ends tied down). Vyatta says someone using its router could save as much as 50% to 90% of the cost of buying and maintaining a proprietary WAN router from a major vendor. It's the same story as in the data center with Linux/proprietary operating system swap-outs: cheaper Intel hardware costs. Some router vendors can charge up to three times the regular cost of standard parts found at Best Buy or Circuit City, such as RAM, interface cards, power supplies and other hardware. The strength of open source is the other asset Vyatta touts. Many network equipment vendors use both proprietary and open source code in their gear, but run the software in a black box without giving users access to it. Vyatta says a potentially worldwide network of eyeballs finding bugs and shoring up vulnerabilities in its code will make it robust enough for deployments in the most critical networks - such as financial services, defense or the Internet core. Vyatta says it will follow a familiar open-source business model: offer its product for free, charging for support and consulting. Its production version is scheduled for later this year.

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