Product Line Hall of Fame
Ericsson AXE Family of Telecommunications Switches
The Ericsson AXE family of telecommunications switches was created in the 1970's as a conscious effort to create a system structure that would be resilient to a wide variety of changes:
- functionality requirements: telephony is constantly evolving as a services
- local adaptations: Ericsson is active in 140 countries, and many regional and national regulations must be accommodated
- scalability: the architecture must deliver cost-effective solutions from small installations to major international hubs
- personnel: several generations of engineers have kept building on their predecessors' achievements, in dozens of development centers all over the world
- technology evolution, but more of that below
In terms of technology growth, AXE has survived a remarkable set of changes. This goes from the first switch deployment in 1976, which actually controlled relay devices, through the introduction of digital switching, ATM, and now moving on to a softswitch architecture. In the latter case, AXE takes on the server role, controlling gateway devices based on various technologies including IP transport, carrying the AXE architecture into the Voice-over-IP world.
The software design of the AXE family was built from the ground up based on what we now describe as an object oriented approach. Objects (blocks) interact using message passing; simple and clear rules regarding design time and runtime semantics minimize the risk of design deterioration. The prime example of the resilience of the architecture is Ericsson's implementation of mobile switching on top of the AXE platform and basic switching application structure. This includes a number of analog cellular systems, as well as every major digital cellular standard: GSM/GPRS/EDGE, WCDMA, D-AMPS, PDC, cdma2000, with others to follow.
During its 30+ year history, AXE has also evolved in terms of the computing platform, going through a number of performance enhancing technology changes. In the latest step, this has included successfully transferring the architecture onto a commercial hardware platform, while retaining software and interface compatibility with the wide range of line interfaces and switching devices available within the family.
Finally, AXE has been a considerable commercial success: several thousand switches are in operation all over the world, and 40% of all cellular phone calls are placed through Ericsson equipment.
About This Product Line
Ericsson AXE Family of Telecommunications Switches was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Third Software Product Line Conference.
Cited improvements to Ericsson's AXE Family of Telecommunications Switches include adaptability to change and evolution.