Open Compute Project Draws Technology Contributions from Industry Heavyweights

The Open Compute Summit saw news from multiple technology companies eager to join a movement that's changing the components that make up datacenters. The San Jose event, put on by the foundation behind the Open Compute Project, drew nearly 3,000 participants seeking to advance the mission of creating standards for the use of off-the-shelf data center equipment and open source software to create scalable computing environments.

The project community was launched by Facebook in 2011 based on the work done by a team of its engineers to figure out how to scale its own computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way — in other words, applying open source software principles to hardware. Since then, the company estimated, the solutions it has implemented for itself have saved the company more than $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs over the last three years.

The Open Compute movement is now drawing attention from multiple vendors intent on contributing designs from their own environments and components to be made available freely for others to use. In his opening keynote last week, Chairman and President Frank Frankovsky said the organization has drawn membership from 150 companies.

During the summit, for example, Microsoft announced its participation and said it would contribute designs for servers in its datacenters that power global cloud services such as Windows Azure, enabling other organizations to set up their own cloud infrastructure Azure-style.

Quanta contributed a line of "Open Rack"-compatible products co-developed with Rackspace that have been certified by two certification labs that support the Open Compute Project. Riding along with the Quanta news, QLogic announced a fibre channel adapter specifically designed for Open Compute Project servers, such as the Quanta STRATOS S215-X1M2Z. The QLogic QOE2562 8Gb Fibre Channel has also passed a validation process.

Seagate Technology contributed two new development specifications for its Kinetic Open Storage platform. The Kinetic Ethernet Drive interface guides the replacement of conventional HDD SATA or SAS backplanes with Ethernet backplanes. The Kinetic T-Card development adapter lets software developers write and pre-test applications by communicating over the connectors to Kinetic Open Storage hard drives. The company stated that both specifications are designed to conform to the dimensions, specifications, power signal assignments, and physical placement of industry standard SAS drives.

AMD announced that it would contribute a new design using the AMD Opteron A-Series server processor, as part of a common slot architecture specification for motherboards, otherwise known as "Group Hug."

"We are reinventing this industry together, in the open, and everyone has a chance to contribute — to help ensure that all the technologies we develop and consume are as scalable as possible, as efficient as possible, and as innovative as possible," said Frankovsky.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.