Trillium Digital Systems
Trillium Digital Systems, developed and licensed standards-based communications source code software to telecommunications equipment manufacturers for the wireless, broadband, Internet and telephone network infrastructure. Trillium became one of the early pioneers to license source code. The Trillium Digital Systems business entity no longer exists, but the Trillium communications software is still developed and licensed by RadiSys (NASDAQ:RSYS). Trillium software is used in the network infrastructure as well as associated service platforms, clients and devices.
Trillium was founded in February 1988 in Los Angeles, California. The co-founders were Jeff Lawrence and Larisa Chistyakov. The initial capitalization of Trillium when it was incorporated was $1,000. The name Trillium came about because of a mistake. Jeff and Larisa asked for company name suggestions from family and friends. Someone suggested a character named Trillian from the book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. They thought the suggestion was supposed to be trillium, a flower in the lily family. They liked the sound and symbolism of the name Trillium so they used it as the name of their new company.
Trillium was started as a consulting company. Its first consulting jobs were to develop communications software for bisynchronous, asynchronous and multiprotocol PAD products. Consulting continued through the end of 1990. While consulting, the co-founders decided there was an opportunity to develop and license portable source code software for communications protocols. Towards the end of 1990 Trillium became focused on developing its own products.
Source code is a symbolic language (e.g., the C programming language) which is run through a compiler to generate binary code which can run on a particular microprocessor. Communications systems have a variety of hardware and software architectures, use a variety of microprocessors and use a variety of software development environments. It wasn’t technically possible to develop a single piece of binary code that could run on many different systems. Source code, if properly designed and supported, can provide a highly leveragable solution that can be integrated and used in many different systems. The proper way to test source code is to compile it for all possible environments it might run in and then run and test it in those environments. There were as many environments as there were pieces of communications equipment. That testing approach was difficult. To overcome this difficulty Trillium developed an operating system called the Multiprocessor Operating System (MOS) that could run under commercially available operating systems such as DOS, Windows, Solaris and Linux and provide a simulation and testing environment for its software products.
Trillium's first software product supported the X.25 communications protocol. Subsequent products were developed for a number of data communications and voice communications protocols. Trillium's primary focus in its early years was on control plane and signalling plane protocols. In later years Trillium also developed some data plane protocols. A more comprehensive list of the software products developed by Trillium is listed in the Product History section. Trillium is currently developing software products to support the Femtocell communications protocols. Throughout its history Trillium was also very active in standards setting bodies including the CCITT/ITU, IETF, ATM Forum, Frame Relay Forum and others.
Trillium software products were used in communications and networking products designed for the PDN, PSTN, Internet, enterprise networks and home networks. Trillium's evolution and development, paralleled the evolution and development of the communications industry. In 1988 there were less than 1/2 million Internet users, about 4 million cell phone users and no broadband (DSL, cable) users. The industry went through significant transitions from the mid-1980s through the early-2000s as described in the Market History section. By 2008 there were over 1.4 billion Internet users, almost 3.3 billion mobile phone users and over 1 billion broadband users.
During this period, communications equipment manufacturers licensed source code software to reduce their time to market, decrease their development risk and reduce their costs. By 1999 many companies offered source code software products. Some of these included:
|Trillium Digital Systems||US||SS7, ATM, IP, Interworking, High Availability, ISDN, Frame Relay, V5, X.25/X.75, Professional Services|
|ADC Newnet||US||SS7, High Availability, Professional Services|
|Data Connection Limited||England||ATM, IP, High Availability|
|DGM&S Telecommunications (SignalSoft)||US||SS7, Interworking, High Availability|
|Ficon Technology||US||ATM, IP|
|Harris & Jeffries (NetPlane)||US||ATM, High Availability|
|Hughes Software Systems||India||SS7, ATM, IP, Interworking, High Availability, Frame Relay, V5, Professional Services|
|Telenetworks||US||ATM, Interworking, ISDN, Frame Relay, X.25/X.75|
|Telesoft International||US||SIP, ISDN, T1 RBS, CAS E1 R2, Frame Relay and Multi-Link Frame Relay, PPP and ML-PPP, X.25/X.75, interworking, white-label softphone, white-label VoIP-PSTN gateway, High-Availability, Professional Services|
Trillium was funded entirely by its cash flow from its founding through 1999. In late 1998, Trillium decided that to provide liquidity for its shareholders and accelerate its growth it should raise money through an initial public offering. After discussions with investment bankers, it was decided that to improve its initial public offering valuation, it would be necessary to first raise some private equity money to fund organizational expansion, revenue growth and revenue rebalancing. In early 1999, Trillium entered discussions with various venture capital and private equity firms. It closed two private equity deals, one with Rader Reinfrank & Co. in July 1999 for $10 million and the other with Intel Capital and its Intel Communications Fund in September 1999 for $4 million. Rader Reinfrank & Co. was the lead investor and Intel Capital was a co-investor. Trillium used the funds to accelerate the growth of its organization and product line in preparation for a planned initial public offering in either 2000 or 2001. Trillium received ISO 9001 certification in February 2000 and SEI -CMM Level 2 certification in December 2001.
Trillium, an Intel Company
Between 1995 and 2000 more than 1,100 technology companies went public. There were over 350 technology initial public offerings in 1999 alone. The first day returns of those initial public offerings in 1999 averaged over 90%. During 1999 and 2000, a number of Trillium's competitors either went public, or were acquired.
|HotHaus||Acquired by public company||VoIP software||$280 million||March 1999|
|Telogy||Acquired by public company||VoIP software||$457 million||June 1999|
|Ficon Technology||Acquired by public company||IP, ATM software||$90 million||January 2000|
|RadVision||Initial public offering||IP software||Priced at $20.00 share||March 2000|
|Inverness||Acquired by public company||IP and MPLS software||$115 million||March 2000|
|NetPlane (Harris & Jeffries)||Acquired by public company||IP, ATM, Frame Relay software||$140 million||July 2000|
|SignalSoft (DGM&S)||Initial public offering||SS7 software||Priced at $17.00 share||August 2000|
|DynamicSoft||Acquired by public company||SIP software||$55 million||July 2004|
In March 2000, following a number of inquiries from potential acquirers, Trillium decided to explore its possible sale. Trillium created a list of potential acquirers that included communications equipment manufacturers, communications semiconductor companies and a few other companies. Intel Corporation was part of this list since they were already an investor in Trillium. Craig Barrett, the CEO of Intel, felt it was important for Intel to be involved in the communications and networking business. Starting in 1997, and over a 5 year period, Intel spent over $10 billion acquiring communications chip, hardware and software companies. Intel acquired Trillium in a deal for $300 million that closed on August 24, 2000. Intel’s objectives in acquiring Trillium were to expand the networking software available to its network processor, establish a viable entry into the networking software business to complement the network processor business as they moved to sell platform level solutions, and validate and optimize software designs to address high growth communications market segments including voice over IP and wireless.
As part of the closing, Intel certified there were no Material Adverse Effects; any changes reasonably likely in the future to be materially adverse on the operations, assets, liabilities or earnings of Intel. On August 28, 2000 Intel stopped selling and recalled its Pentium III due to design defects and performance problems, on September 21, 2000 it issued an earnings warning and on September 28 it cancelled its Timna chip and delayed its Pentium 4 and Itanium chips due to design defects and performance problems. In just a little over a month (from August 24, 2000 to September 29, 2000) Intel stock plummeted from over $70 per share to $40 per share.
Trillium became a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel. It was renamed for external purposes as “Trillium, an Intel Company” and for internal purposes as the "Networking Software Division (NSD)". In 2002, NSD was renamed as the “Control Plane Processing Division (CPPD)”. The division was initially part of Intel's Network Communications Group, which later became the Intel Communications Group. One of the co-founders moved into Intel when the deal closed, and the other stayed with Trillium. The functional integration of Trillium into Intel was considered successful, but the strategic and value integration was considered less successful. After the deal closed Trillium continued to focus on offering its communications software products and professional services to external customers and also started to develop cross divisional and business group customers within Intel. Trillium focused significant resources on integrating its software products into Intel network processors and related products.
The co-founders of Trillium left Intel in March and September 2002. Larisa died on December 22, 2008.
Continuous Computing, Trillium Software
As the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and 2001, Intel started selling many of its communications businesses. Continuous Computing, based in San Diego, California, acquired Trillium's intellectual property, customers and also hired some Trillium engineering, sales and marketing staff from Intel in February 2003.
Continuous Computing continues to license Trillium software, develop additional software Trillium software products and also bundle the software with its high availability and other hardware solutions for network equipment providers. Trillium software products celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2008.
RadiSys, Trillium Software
RadiSys (NASDAQ:RSYS), which provides hardware and software for Internet-based telecommunications, announced on May 3, 2011 that it was going to acquire Continuous Computing and its Trillium software products in a deal valued at $120 million. RadiSys and Continuous Computing are focused on complementary areas of networking technology.
There were a number of regulatory, financial and technology events that drove the telecommunications industry, and subsequently drove Trillium's growth and development.
- General network infrastructure moved from time division multiplexing to statistical multiplexing and from character based communications to packet based communications.
- Work on the OSI reference model was initiated in 1977. The OSI reference model is an abstract description for layered communications and computer network protocol design.
- Computing and communications moved from closed and proprietary mainframe based systems to open systems.
- Equipment manufacturers moved from in-house technology development to buying or licensing hardware and software technology from other technology providers.
- Different voice, data and video networking technologies converged.
- Equipment manufacturers moved from using proprietary software solutions to open source software solutions.
- The break up of AT&T was initiated in 1974 by the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust suit against the telephone company's monopoly. In 1982, AT&T agreed to break itself up into several firms in 1984. The breakup of the AT&T's monopoly led to a surge of competition in the long distance telecommunications market as new carriers came into existence. It also improved the ability of other companies to sell their equipment to the regional Bell operating companies.
- The first TCP/IP based wide area network became operational in 1983. The Internet was opened to commercial interests in 1988 and was initially used for e-mail, file transfer and other applications.
- The first release of the Mosaic Web browser was in late 1994.
- Software bugs in the switching systems of the core network caused massive failures in the telephone networks of AT&T in 1990 and Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell in 1991. These network crashes shutdown telephone service for large portions of the United States and prompted Congressional investigations into the reliability of the telephone network.
- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started competitive wireless spectrum auctions in 1994.
- The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law in early-1996. It deregulated portions of the telecommunications industry and led to a surge of competition in the in local access, wireless and other markets. Other countries also started deregulating their telecommunications industries.
- The Asian financial crisis erupted in mid-1997 as poor fundamentals, structural weaknesses and a shift in investor sentiments caused liquidity problems in the financial systems of a number of Asian countries. The crisis stabilized by the beginning of 1999.
- The dot com bubble started growing in the mid to late 1990s and burst in 2000. The bubble was driven by a large increase in Internet access, large increase in wireless handset availability, and a belief that data intensive applications were going to drive the next generation network. The network was moving from being voice centric to data centric, from narrowband technologies to broadband technologies and from 2nd generation wireless to 3rd generation wireless technologies to accommodate real and perceived demand. Data bandwidth needs were doubling every 3 – 4 months. As the bubble burst, network operators, service providers, equipment manufacturers and others suffered huge losses. Over $2 trillion in market capitalization evaporated in less than 12 months and over 500,000 jobs were lost. Over 60 telecommunications carriers in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy between 2000 and 2002. By the end of 2000, it was difficult for companies to raise money through private equity funding or initial public offerings.
All Trillium products are based on the Trillium Advanced Portability Architecture (TAPA), a set of architectural and coding standards designed to ensure that the individual source code software products are portable and independent of the target system's compiler, processor, operating system and architecture. Each software product is provided as C source code and has four programming interfaces: the system services interface, the layer management interface, the upper interface and the lower interface. TAPA describes the parameters and expected behavior across each interface.
Individual Trillium software products consist of 10,000’s to 100,000’s lines of source code. Each Trillium software product could be used separately, or in conjunction with other software products to build complete protocol stacks. Trillium software products were also able to support different national and industry variants of specific protocols. In later years, as the different network infrastructure technologies converged, Trillium software products were able to support interworking and translation between the different network infrastructure technologies (e.g. telephony to Internet Protocols). They were used in a wide range of network equipment, products and devices.
|Clients & Devices||Infrastructure||Service Platforms, Servers, Storage|
|Narrowband||Broadband||Mobile Wireless||Fixed Wireless|
|Type of Network||Enterprise, home||Public||Public||Public||Public||Public||Private, enterprise||Home||Not applicable|
|Sub-type of network||Not applicable||Core transport, metro transport, access||Narrowband access, remote access, aggregation||Broadband access, aggregation||Wireless access, aggregation||Wireless access, aggregation||Enterprise, SOHO, VSO, LAN, SAN, key system, PBX, iPBX||Home, SOHO||Not applicable|
|Product solutions||Audio / screen / video IP phone, 2G / WAP / GPRS / 3G / 4G wireless handset, TV, DVR, PC, game console, tablet, PDA, laptop, consumer device, sensor||Core switch / router, edge switch / router, metro switch / router, multi service switch, media gateway controller / softswitch, optical cross connect, optical add/drop mux, signalling gateway, trunking media gateway, service node, service platform, test and monitoring, content switch, application / control / directory server, storage||Access switch, multi service switch, media gateway controller / softswitch, access gateway, residential gateway, remote access server, test and monitoring, cache server, storage||DSLAM, CMTS, multi service switch, media gateway controller / softswitch, access gateway, residential gateway, test and monitoring, content switch, cache server, storage||Base station controller, base transceiver station, radio network controller, node b, serving GPRS support node, gateway GPRS support node, location register, authentication center, equipment id register, media gateway controller/ softswitch, test and monitoring, content switch, cache server, storage||Base station, multi service switch, media gateway controller / softswitch, access gateway, residential gateway, test and monitoring, content switch, cache server, storage||Business gateway, integrated access device, router, network interface card, wireless LAN, firewall and intrusion detection, application server, web server, storage, workgroup switch / router, backbone switch / router, server switch, content switch, IP PBX, web server, media server, dbase server, storage, test and monitoring, mux, femtocell base station||Residential gateway, settop box, cable modem, DSL modem, router, network interface card, wireless LAN, femtocell base station||Service platform, service node, content / server switch, application / control / media / directory / security / dbase / web server, content processing, storage, media gateway controller / softswitch, location register, authentication center, equipment id register, position determining entity|
During its history, Trillium has developed over 150 software products, which parallel the evolution and development of the network infrastructure. These software products support communications protocols specified in international (e.g. ITU), national (e.g. ANSI) and industry (e.g. IETF) standards. These products are licensed primarily to telecommunications equipment manufacturers and include:
|Technology||Description||Products||First Customer Ship|
|X.25, X.75||Connection oriented protocols to provide data communications over the packet switched wide area network (WAN).||X.25, X.75, LAPB||June 1990|
|ISDN||Protocols to manage and support integrated voice and data communications over a phone line. Uses a circuit-switched telephone network system, that also provides access to the packet switched wide area network (WAN).||Q.930/Q.931, LAPD||December 1990|
|Frame Relay||Protocols to manage and support data communications between local area networks (LANs) and end-points over a packet switched wide area network (WAN).||Q.933/LMI||November 1991|
|SS7, SIGTRAN||Telephony signaling protocols used to set up and tear down telephone calls on the public switched telephone network.||MTP 2, MTP 3, SCCP, TCAP, ISUP, MAP 3G, MAP IS-41, INAP, CAP, MTP 3B, Q.2140, DUA, IUA, M2PA, M2UA, M3UA, SCTP, SUA, V5UA||March 1992|
|ATM||Connection oriented protocols to manage and support the transmission of data, voice and video communications over cell based networks||AAL2 Signalling, Q.SAAL||November 1993|
|V5||Protocols to manage communications between the telephone exchange and the local loop.||Envelope Function, LAPV, Layer 3||February 1996|
|Interworking||Protocols to manage and support interworking, conversion and translation between different control and signalling protocols.||Protocol Specific Functions||April 1997|
|Fault tolerance, high availability||Software to manage and support load distribution across multiple processor configuations and/or fault tolerant active/standby processor configurations.||DFT/HA Core, Load Distribution Functions||June 1998|
|VoIP||Protocols to manage and support the transmission of voice through the Internet or other packet-switched networks.||H.323, SIP, MGCP, H.248/MEGACO, RTP/RTCP/SRTP||March 1999|
|Wireless||Protocols to manage and support the transmission of voice, data and video over wireless networks.||2G – MAP IS-41, SS7; 2.5G – BSSGP, CAP, GMM/SM, GTP, LLC, MAP 3G, NS, RLC/MAC SNDCP; 3G – ALCAP, CAP FP, GMM/SM, GTP, lu UP, MAC 3G, MAP 3G, NBAP, PDCP, RANAP, RLC 3G, RNSAP, RRC, SIGTRAN||March 1999|
|IMS||Protocols to manage and support the transmission of Internet Protocol (IP) multimedia to mobile users on wireless networks.||AAL5, COPS, Diameter, ISUP, MAP 3G, M3UA, MTP 2, MTP 3, MTP 3B, Q.2140, SCCOP, SCCP, SCTP, SIP, TCAP, TUCL|
|Femtocell||Protocols to manage and support the transmission of voice, data and video over wireless networks using small residential or business base stations.||RRC, PDCP, RLC 3G, MAC 3G, MAC-hs, MAC-c, MAC-es, RANAP, SCCP, SUA, M3UA, SCTP, lu UP, GTP, lu-h, UMA Client, Diameter, GMM/SM, SIP, FP, NBAP, SCTP, TR-069|
Trillium software has been used in over 500 communications and networking products.
Trillium conceived of, and published a poster that provided detailed technical information about the network infrastructure and protocols in an attractive format that was easy to understand. It became an indispensable tool for the communications industry and it was displayed on the office walls and conference rooms of tens of thousands of engineers, venture capitalists and financial analysts around the world. The poster is periodically updated to reflect changes in the network infrastructure and protocols. The 1st generation poster was published in 1997 and was inspired by the "ISO and CCITT Data Communication Standards" poster published by Retix. The 5th generation of the poster was published in 2008.
Notes and references
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- "Internet World Stats"
- "Global cellphone penetration reaches 50 pct" Reuters, November 29, 2007. 
- "Strategy Analytics: Worldwide Broadband Subscriptions to Reach 415 Million This Year". Reuters, May 28, 2008. May 2008+BW20080528
- "Venture Capital Investment is Made in Trillium Digital". Wall Street Journal, September 17, 1999
- "Broadcom Acquires HotHaus; Canadian firm specializes in Voice Over IP". Arik Hesseldahl, Electronic News. July 26, 1999 
- "TI to Acquire Telogy for $457M". Jeff Dorsch, Electronic News. June 7, 1999. 
- "GlobeSpan to Acquire Ficon Technology, Inc., a Networking Software Leader". Cambridge Telcom Report, January 17, 2000. 
- "Israeli IPO Leaps 170 Percent On Its First Trading Day". Israel Business Today, March 1, 2000. 
- "Virata Acquires Inverness Systems, Combining DSL Chips with IP/ATM/MPLS Software ". ConvergeDigest.com, March 23, 2000. 
- "Conexant to Acquire Netplane Systems, a Leading Supplier of Carrier-Class Networking Software for Internet Infrastructure Equipment". SEC Filing, July 24, 2000. 
- "Breaking News: IPOs Receive Mixed Reception". SmartMoney.com, August 3, 2000. 
- "Cisco Picks Up Dynamicsoft". CRN, September 14, 2004
- "Craig Barrett Inside Can this nature-loving onetime professor lead Intel out of the woods? One thing's for sure: He's got awfully big hiking boots to fill". Daniel Roth. Fortune, December 18, 2000. 
- "Intel: A Lesson in How Not to Diversify" acquiring communications and networking businesses. Dean Takahashi, Electronic Business, August 1, 2006. 
- Intel Annual Report 2002
- "Company News; Intel to Buy Trillium for $300 Million". The New York Times, August 2, 2000 
- "Glitch prompts Intel to recall 1.13-GHz Pentiums" Ian Fried. CNET News.com, August 28, 2000. 
- "Intel Stuns Markets With Earnings Warning". SmartMoney, September 21, 2000 
- "Intel Kills Timna" Tom Mainelli. PCWorld.com, September 29, 2000
- "PC makers report Pentium 4 delay" Joe Wilcox. CNET News.com, September 28, 2000. 
- "Updated: Intel puts comms-chip businesses up for sale, says report". Mark LaPedus. EE Times, June 3, 2006. 
- "Intel to Sell Communications Unit". John G. Spooner, CNET News, January 4, 2003 
- "Intel Sells Trillium to CCPU". Michael Singer, InternetNews.com. January 17, 2003 
- "Trillium Turns 20" Light Reading, June 18, 2008
- "RadiSys Reports Higher Than Expected Q1 2011 Revenue and Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Continuous Computing". May 3, 2011 
- "A.T.&T. Pinpoints Cause of Phone Disruption". Calvin Sims. New York Times, January 17, 1990. 
- "Shaping American Telecommunications". Christopher H. Sterling, Phyllis W. Bernt, Martin B. H. Weiss. 
- "Telecom headed for bankruptcy reruns?". Marguerite Reardon. CNET News.com, April 5, 2004.
"Trillium Digital Systems Case Study: 1988–1995". Jeff Lawrence, 2004. 
"Trillium Digital Systems Case Study: 1996–2003". Jeff Lawrence, 2004.
"Trillium Digital Systems, An Intel Company. A Case Study & An Analysis of the Protocols in the Voice Over IP Arena". Shramik Jyothula and Sridhar Dronamraju. 
"Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success". Robert W. Price, AMACOM, 2004. 
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"Growing Lean". Douglas Young. Los Angeles Business Journal, December 2, 1996.
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"Preparation Counts More Than Luck". Juan Hovey. Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1999.