Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Open Compute Project Gains Momentum

The fifth Open Compute Project Summit got underway in San Jose, California with keynote presentations from Facebook,  Microsoft, AMD, Intel and others.

The Open Compute Project (OCP), which was launched by Facebook in April 2011, now has more than 150 member companies helping to pursue its mission of developing "the most efficient server, storage and data center hardware designs for scalable computing."

Some top-level highlights:

AMD -- showcased a development platform for its first 64-bit ARM-based server CPU.  AMD has also contributed a new microserver design to OCP that is compatible with the common-slot architecture specification dubbed "Group Hug."

Facebook -- Facebook has contributed its new "Honey Badger" microserver adapter to OCP.  Facebook also showcased their new rapid deployment data center concepts and their new optical storage prototype. Facebook estimates that the OCP initiative has saved the company more than $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs over the last three years.  Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook has always been a systems company at heart since it has always worked hard at pursuing the most efficient hardware platforms.

Fidelity + Hyve -- Fidelity has contributed the designs for its "Open Bridge Rack," which enables the deployment of OCP storage and server designs in legacy 19" racks. Similarly, Hyve has contributed the designs for its 1500 Series server designs, which are also designed to fit into legacy 19" racks.

IO -- announced a new containerized data center solution that employs OpenStack and Open Compute Project hardware. IO already has several customers for this new service, including Merck.

Microsoft --  has joined the Open Compute Project and is contributing designs for the servers that power global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, and Bing.   Bill Laing, Microsoft's CVP for Windows Server and System Center Group, said his company now operates a global infrastructure with huge data centers with over 1 million servers currently in operation. Microsoft will contribute its design for a cloud server specification for its most advanced servers with its hardest workloads. Key design criteria include modularity, simplicity, efficiency and operational agility.

LSI -- has joined the Open Compute Project and contributed two designs: a 12G SAS expander upgrade to the Open Vault storage system and a flash storage card that provides low-latency flash storage to server-based applications.    

Seagate -- has contributed its Kinetic open storage platform, which is designed to prevent scale bottlenecks in storage.

Quanta -- has contributed the entire line of Open Rack-compatible products they co-developed with Rackspace.

OCP Solution Provider ecosystem -- there are now seven official OCP Solution Providers: AMAX, Avnet, CTC, Hyve, Penguin Computing, Quanta, and Racklive.

New certification process -- there are now two levels of certification: "OCP Ready" and "OCP Certified." These certifications will provide consumers with assurance that the products with these labels have been thoroughly tested and meet the standards set by the OCP community. Two new labs have been established -- USTA and ITRI -- to manage the certification process. Wiwynn was the first company to successfully achieve OCP certification for one of their products, Quanta quickly followed.

New OCP hardware license -- currently operates under a relatively "permissive" license (modeled on Apache) to govern contributions. OCP will roll out a second, more "prescriptive" license (modeled on GPL) that will require anyone who modifies an original design and then sells that design to contribute the modified version back to the foundation.

Some other new members -- Panasonic, Cumulus Networks, io, IBM, box and Bloomberg

The keynote videos are posted online.


In May 2013, The Open Compute Project announced plans to develop an open, OS-agnostic top-of-rack switch.  The effort will be led by Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook. Companies that are supporting the effort include Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Facebook, Intel, Netronome, OpenDaylight, the Open Networking Foundation, and VMware.

In November 2013,  OCP said that it had received more than 30 potential contributions, covering most of the network hardware stack and even some of the network software stack.  In a blog posting, the Open Compute Project highlights four contributions in particular, all of them currently being considered by the OCP Incubation Committee and likely to be accepted soon.   These included  Broadcom's full specification for and implementation of an open switch;  Cumulus Networks' Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) software;  Intel's specification for an open switch; and Mellanox's open switch.


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