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ImageStream Technology - Inetics

Inetics Download White Paper

IInetics Technology Objectives
ImageStream developed the Inetics technology platform to provide a new driver component architecture for Linux, coupled with an tightly integrated Linux kernel, and management software to make it all work together. The Inetics platform was designed to solve many of the problems associated with WAN driver design and development. The list below includes some of the advantages of using the Inetics platform, which includes the Inetics Driver Component Architecture (IDCA):

1. Shorter development cycles
2. Increased performance
3. Extensive scalability
4. Improved memory efficiency
5. Application flexibility
6 3rd party binary-only components
7. Seamless upgrades for standard and custom software

One of the biggest challenges in developing advanced networking technologies for Linux has been the use of licensed source code in an Open Source world. Before Inetics was developed, ImageStream and most other developers designed monolithic drivers that included everything in one binary file. Because ImageStream needed to use a commercial license for portions of the source code to its drivers, it was impossible to offer monolithic drivers under an Open Source license. The alternative was just as problematic, because it is impossible to compete in an Open Source world without providing source code.

ImageStream developed IDCA to separate WAN drivers into their component parts. In this way, ImageStream can distribute its work under an Open Source license, and still follow the stricter licensing requirements for those components that are commercially licensed. The Inetics Driver Component Architecture provides a platform where commercial and non-commercial driver components may be used together in the same system. As Inetics is adopted by more developers, the architecture has the potential to produce market momentum for all Linux WAN card manufacturers.

ImageStream has also faced architectural issues that were causing development cycles to increase over time. For example, a monolothic driver can become difficult to maintain as new protocol support is added and the source code grows. As monolithic WAN driver code becomes larger, the overall complexity of the software increases. This progressive growth slows down development and increases the time required to track down bugs.

The Inetics Solution

The Inetics Driver Component Architecture (IDCA) manages WAN protocols by sharing protocol components among multiple network devices. This improves memory efficiency by eliminating the need to embed multiple copies of a protocol stack in each of the different monolothic drivers.

IDCA also provides expanded developer support at the physical and data link layers. Many OEM developers produce products that require relatively minor modifications to otherwise standard device drivers. With Inetics, it is possible to plug in your own custom processing modules in-line before and after a commercial or Open Source protocol module so developers can easily implement custom applications. In addition, Inetics makes it is easier to support custom networking applications because custom code can be maintained separately from the modules provided by the board manufacturer. Standard and custom modules can be updated independently, and new software releases from the manufacturer can be plugged in easily. This is a significant improvement over traditional monolithic drivers that would require driver rewrites each time there is an update from the manufacturer.

The current release of Inetics supports the standardized component types listed below:

Physical Interface Control (PIC):

Configures line interface hardware such as CSU/DSUs and ethernet transceivers.

Hardware Interface Control (HIC):
Hardware-specific device driver for network data input and output.

Encoded Data Processor (EDP):
Provides access to data link encapsulation.

Data Link Protocol (DLP):
Supports plug-in LAN and WAN protocol stacks.

Decoded Data Processor (DDP):
Manipulates outbound network data before it is encapsulated, and inbound data after it is stripped by the DLP.

ImageStream invites you to join the Router Revolution. Download the Inetics source code today and let us know what you think. As a developer of WAN software, you can help ImageStream establish Linux as the world's leading platform for networking products.