Most CPE vendors don’t talk about their operating systems, perhaps because they don’t feel that customers are really that interested. After all, as long as the equipment works and delivers reliable performance, it should not matter.
But to a CPE vendor like Zyxel, the operating system is vitally important. It’s the way we give software and applications access to the functionality of the equipment itself. The approach most CPE vendors take is to take the SDK that comes with a new chipset and build their operating environment on top of that; however, with every new chipset there will be a new SDK and that means redoing all the work you did last time for every new release. This will also lead to the software being just that little bit different for every product line, which can lead to inconsistencies.
Zyxel decided some time ago that it would be much better to have its own operating system that could be easily and quickly adapted to any new chipset and provide more consistency for our customers. We set about developing what is now known as OPAL.
This is essentially a platform-agnostic architecture, which uses a hardware abstraction layer to make it portable to different hardware platforms, while providing a consistent user experience and fastest time to market. In OPAL, the applications that sit on top of the abstraction layer always remain the same.
It’s taken some time and investment, but OPAL is now well and truly tried and tested, so our partners can be very confident that it works. They know exactly what to expect from us when we deliver new equipment and, instead of taking three months to integrate their solutions with ours, it will perhaps take a month or so.
All Zyxel VDSL CPE now comes with OPAL and the next step is to put it onto all our GPON gateways. In the longer term, we’ll expand coverage to LTE and other technologies. We’ll go on adding features and enhancements to OPAL as well, so that we continue to meet the needs of our customers. Our roadmap is almost entirely based on customer feedback.
With OPAL in place we can bring new CPE products to market faster than we could previously. More importantly, it means that customers get a consistent user experience and they can integrate their Zyxel equipment with their services much faster than they could before.
Consequently, we are only too happy to talk about OPAL. If you’d like to hear what we have to say, please feel free to ask.