Franz Wei, VP Advantech Embedded ePlatforms

As the AdvancedTCA ecosystem expands, Advantech’s integration and scalability capabilities have them optimistic for the future.

1Franz joined Advantech in 1997. He now leads key embedded product divisions within Advantech. Franz is responsible for an extensive AdvancedTCA portfolio and was active in early contributions to CompactPCI development at Advantech after successfully streamlining the company’s PICMG 1.0 and 1.3 product lines.

What is Advantech’s history with AdvancedTCA?

Having been a major player across multiple embedded form factors we were very active within PICMG and began our AdvancedTCA development more than six years ago. Our AdvancedTCA business has grown significantly, and we were happy to add many global Tier-1 OEMs as our customers following the introduction of our Intel Xeon 5500/5600 Series blades in 2009.

Our Networks and Telecom division spearheads our AdvancedTCA portfolio. We have great traction within both the wireless and fixed infrastructure segments. Platforms for LTE build-out (eNodeBs and various gateway elements) are a major focus along with IMS and Media Gateway functions, which are especially important, as voice and video transcoding is a major growth area. We also serve the network security market and are seeing significant interest from the data center.

What are your take aways from Mobile World Congress and RSA 2011?

MWC and RSA were both excellent and encouraging as most of the participants gave us such a positive economic outlook. If we look at the demand projections in the security market and from a mobile computing model perspective, business is back and is definitely going in the right direction.

One of the most interesting things we saw from both RSA and Mobile World Congress was the increasing number of players in the enterprise space looking to scale up into the data center or across into carrier space with AdvancedTCA 40G as the overriding medium to get them there.

An overarching strategy we employ at Advantech is helping our customers future-proof their technology decisions. Many of the announcements made leading up to MWC and RSA underlined that strategy, as we help accelerate new product deployment today while leaving the door open for tomorrow’s requirements and enhancements. That’s in line with a hot topic with customers right now, 40G AdvancedTCA. It not only gives equipment providers the means to address their current bandwidth dilemma, it also gives them and many others, including smaller players, the headroom they need to scale their products over time to meet increasing packet processing needs. And it certainly helps them to mitigate risk. We’re finding this is often a decision-clincher for moving to AdvancedTCA versus any other architecture.

Managing video was a huge topic at Mobile World Congress. The higher data transmission rates in 4G networks means equipment makers need to encode and decode as many high definition video channels as possible to enable the best 4G user experience. The DSPA-8901E board we announced at MWC paralleled a Texas Instruments release with benchmark numbers that hit the sweet spot in demand articulated during MWC, 20 channels of full HD per blade.

We also see our ability to scale AdvancedTCA as one of the characteristics that make it attractive in the data center. We have a growing number of design wins in that space, notably in the security market. Enterprise solution providers are moving into the data center and want a bridge into carrier space – they all have their eyes on the cloud, so there is huge interest in what AdvancedTCA 40G can do there right now. Many of the companies designing in that space are IT and network security-minded, and their interest in AdvancedTCA is exciting and really good news for Advantech.

Advantech is now able to offer AdvancedTCA integration services. How will Advantech’s ecosystem of hardware and software vendors help create such integrated solutions?

We were extremely proud and excited to announce our new AdvancedTCA Platform Integration Services at MWC. Our global integration capability acts as the foundation. We then bring together all our ecosystem expertise to make the whole solution bigger than the sum of its parts.

We approach each integration RFQ as a team and look at ways in which we can cost optimize the architecture by bringing collaborating experts to the table. This approach is much like that of the IT industry, where projects are handled by an ecosystem of experts from different firms all under one roof. That means when expertise is required, for example, on the switching aspect, we join forces with industry-leading companies such as Telco Systems. This allows us to offer built-in flexibility and is a great advantage over some vendors where in-house choices may be limiting.

What aids you in offering that flexibility?

I think our flexibility comes from 25 years of embedded design experience and long-term manufacturing expertise with our own Taiwan and China-based factories. This has given us the time to optimize our processes for both small and large batch volumes, and tune our logistics and build-to-order services in integration centers on each continent. AdvancedTCA integration has a solid foundation for it to move beyond bespoke system design with key OEMs.

What do you see as the future for AdvancedTCA and Advantech?

We could not be more pleased with the results from last year, and every indicator we have seen this year shows a similar trajectory. We are seeing strong growth and hitting the “hockey stick” on the graph for growth of AdvancedTCA business. We believe AdvancedTCA has a very bright future, and we are going to be investing quite heavily.


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