Trillium Digital Systems

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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.[1] The Trillium Digital Systems business entity no longer exists, but the Trillium[2] communications software is still developed and licensed by RadiSys (NASDAQ:RSYS).[3] Trillium software is used in the network infrastructure as well as associated service platforms, clients and devices.

Company history[edit]

Trillium[edit]

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,[4] almost 3.3 billion mobile phone users[5] and over 1 billion broadband users.[6]

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:

Company Location Products
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
Data Kinetics England SS7
DGM&S Telecommunications (SignalSoft) US SS7, Interworking, High Availability
DynamicSoft US IP
Ficon Technology US ATM, IP
Future Software India ATM
Harris & Jeffries (NetPlane) US ATM, High Availability
Hughes Software Systems India SS7, ATM, IP, Interworking, High Availability, Frame Relay, V5, Professional Services
Inverness Israel ATM
Omnitel France ISDN, V5
Radvision Israel IP
Tdsoft Israel V5
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.[7] 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[edit]

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.

Company Event Valuation Date
HotHaus Acquired by public company[8] VoIP software $280 million March 1999
Telogy Acquired by public company[9] VoIP software $457 million June 1999
Ficon Technology Acquired by public company[10] IP, ATM software $90 million January 2000
RadVision Initial public offering[11] IP software Priced at $20.00 share March 2000
Inverness Acquired by public company[12] IP and MPLS software $115 million March 2000
NetPlane (Harris & Jeffries) Acquired by public company[13] IP, ATM, Frame Relay software $140 million July 2000
SignalSoft (DGM&S) Initial public offering[14] SS7 software Priced at $17.00 share August 2000
DynamicSoft Acquired by public company[15] 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.[16] Starting in 1997, and over a 5 year period, Intel spent over $10 billion acquiring communications chip, hardware and software companies.[17] Intel acquired Trillium in a deal for $300 million that closed on August 24, 2000.[18][19] 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,[20] on September 21, 2000 it issued an earnings warning[21] and on September 28 it cancelled its Timna chip[22] and delayed its Pentium 4[23] 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[edit]

As the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and 2001, Intel started selling many of its communications businesses.[24] 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.[25][26]

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.[27]

RadiSys, Trillium Software[edit]

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.[28] RadiSys and Continuous Computing are focused on complementary areas of networking technology.

Market History[edit]

There were a number of regulatory, financial and technology events that drove the telecommunications industry, and subsequently drove Trillium's growth and development.

  • 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.
  • 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[29] 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 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.[30] Over 60 telecommunications carriers in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy between 2000 and 2002.[31] By the end of 2000, it was difficult for companies to raise money through private equity funding or initial public offerings.

Product Technology[edit]

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
Core Access Enterprise Home
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

Product History[edit]

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 configurations 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. 2GMAP IS-41, SS7; 2.5GBSSGP, 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 Poster[edit]

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.[32]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Trillium Digital Systems Case Study: 1988–1995". Jeff Lawrence, 2004.[33]
  • "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.[34]
  • "Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success".[35]
  • "How You Can Become Ma Bell". Karen Kaplan. Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1996.
  • "Growing Lean". Douglas Young. Los Angeles Business Journal, December 2, 1996.
  • "Network Broker". Communications News. October 1998.
  • "Preparation Counts More Than Luck". Juan Hovey. Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1999.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "C Comes to Telecom". Loring Wirbel. Electronic Engineering Times, April 20, 1992.
  2. ^ trillium.com
  3. ^ "Radisys - Enabling Wireless Infrastructure Solutions". 
  4. ^ "World Internet Users Statistics and 2014 World Population Stats". 
  5. ^ http://investing.reuters.co.uk/news/articleinvesting.aspx?type=media&storyID=nL29172095
  6. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS201314+28
  7. ^ "Venture Capital Investment is Made in Trillium Digital". Wall Street Journal, September 17, 1999
  8. ^ "Sorry, we can't find findarticles.com. Please check the address for errors.". 
  9. ^ "Sorry, we can't find findarticles.com. Please check the address for errors.". 
  10. ^ "Sorry, we can't find findarticles.com. Please check the address for errors.". 
  11. ^ http://www.allbusiness.com/banking-finance/financial-markets-investing-securities/7465641-1.html
  12. ^ http://www.convergedigest.com/Daily/v7/v7n058.htm#VIRATA%20ACQUIRES%20INVERNESS%20SYSTEMS,%20COMBINING%20DSL%20CHIPS%20WITH%20IP/ATM/MPLS%20SOFTWARE
  13. ^ "CONEXANT SYSTEMS INC - Current report filing (8-K) EXHIBIT 99.1". 
  14. ^ "MarketWatch - Stock Market Quotes, Business News, Financial News". 
  15. ^ http://www.crn.com/networking/47205254
  16. ^ "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. - December 18, 2000". 
  17. ^ http://www.reed-electronics.com/eb-mag/article/CA6355853?pubdate=8%2F1%2F2006
  18. ^ "Intel Annual Report 2002" (PDF). 
  19. ^ http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05E7D81E3DF931A3575BC0A9669C8B63
  20. ^ "Glitch prompts Intel to recall 1.13-GHz Pentiums". CNET. 
  21. ^ "MarketWatch - Stock Market Quotes, Business News, Financial News". 
  22. ^ "Intel Kills Timna". PCWorld. 29 September 2000. 
  23. ^ "PC makers report Pentium 4 delay". CNET. 
  24. ^ "Updated: Intel puts comms-chip businesses up for sale, says report". EETimes. 
  25. ^ "Intel to sell communications unit". CNET. 
  26. ^ "Intel Sells Trillium to CCPU". 
  27. ^ "Trillium Turns 20". Light Reading. 
  28. ^ "RadiSys Reports Higher Than Expected Q1 2011 Revenue and Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Continuous Computing - Business Wire". 
  29. ^ http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE0D9163DF934A25752C0A966958260
  30. ^ "Shaping American Telecommunications". 
  31. ^ "Telecom headed for bankruptcy reruns?". CNET. 
  32. ^ http://www.ccpu.com/poster/tour.html
  33. ^ http://www.cliviasystems.com/general/trilliumCaseStudy95.pdf
  34. ^ http://ise.gmu.edu/~eschneid/infs612/projects/trillium.pdf
  35. ^ "Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success". 

External links[edit]