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RIP Open Kernel Labs, Welcome Cog Systems


This month marks the second anniversary of the acquisition of Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) by General Dynamics (GD). It also marks ten years of us engaging with Qualcomm on commercialising L4 microkernel technology, and eight years since OK Labs was founded. Clearly an occasion to reflect.

In the two years since its acquisition, OK Labs has, in a way, died, and was, in a way, reborn. Specifically, in February of this year, GD closed down the former OK Labs engineering office in Sydney. But rather than this being the end of the L4-based business, it was a new beginning. The core engineers (mostly my former students) created a new, fully Australian-owned company, called Cog Systems.

Cog is continuing OK Labs’ mission of bringing L4 microkernel technology to the world. They have a reseller license that allows them to market the OKL4 Microvisor, which was the main product of OK Labs. And they added their own IP that complements it. They also partner with GD to service pre-existing contracts for OKL4 deployments. In that sense they are really OK Labs reborn.

I think this is a great outcome. We now have a local company who are experts in L4 technology, and are highly skilled and innovative. They will continue to be a great partner not only for GD, but for us in NICTA too, as they will be able to work with us on delivering seL4-based solutions to customers.

The existence of Cog is one reason I’m confidently talking to potential seL4 customers who would use engineering support to build their critical systems. It’s also a step towards creating a critical-system ecosystem in Sydney. I’m very much looking forward to working with them in the future!

I will over the next few weeks reflect on how we got here over the last then years, in particular the history of OK Labs. Stay tuned.

PS: Neither NICTA nor I hold shares in Cog, nor do we have any other interest in the company, other than our general desire to support the Australian high-tech industry. We’re dealing with Cog at arm’s length.

© 2014 by Gernot Heiser. All rights reserved.

Permission granted for verbatim reproduction, provided the reproduction is of the complete, unmodified text, is not made for commercial gain, and this copyright note is included in full. Fair-use abstracting permitted.


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