Open Compute Project Moves Forward in Push for Open Source Hardware Standards

By Erin Harrison October 28, 2011

Hardware innovation is officially jumping on the open source bandwagon.

At the second Open Compute Project Summit this week, Facebook announced the launch of a foundation that will lead the Open Compute Project (OCP) going forward.

The group launched itself earlier this year, calling for more openness and collaboration that “would likely mean a faster pace of innovation in infrastructure technology, greater accessibility to the best possible technology for us all, more efficiency in scale computing and a reduced environmental impact through the sharing of best practices,” according to an Open Compute blog post by Facebook’s Frank Frankovsky.

This week, the group also released a summary of its mission and guiding principles and further details on how projects will be proposed, evaluated and supported under the OCP banner.

Among the group’s guiding principles is to enable the development of the most efficient servers, storage and data center infrastructure from a useful work per total cost perspective, in order to bring computing to people at the lowest cost and widest distribution.

A list of the project’s first set of official members is also set to be released, but the group provided a snapshot of hardware suppliers including: Intel, ASUS, Dell, Mellanox, and Huawei; software suppliers like Red Hat, Cloudera and Future Facilities; enablers like DRT, Hyve (Synnex), Nebula, Baidu, and Silicon Mechanics; consumers like Facebook, Mozilla, Rackspace, Netflix, NTT Data, Tivit, the ODCA, and Goldman Sachs.

Also participating from an institutional perspective are organizations like Georgia Tech University, North Carolina State University and CERN.

The group on Thursday also announced an initial slate of directors and advisers that includes Andy Bechtolsheim from Arista Networks, Don Duet from Goldman Sachs, Frankovsky, Mark Roenigk from Rackspace and Jason Waxman from Intel.

Industry leaders have said that open system standard levels are lacking in the hardware industry. A report from Wall Street & Technology quoted Andy Bechtolsheim, chief development officer at Arista Networks, who said that the Open Compute Project will be a step forward for the industry.

“There is a wide range of products with ‘gratuitous differentiation.’ This helps vendors more than customers,” Bechtolsheim said, according to the report.

As a result, the largest companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo have built their own servers because they did not want to get locked in to a particular vendor’s specifications. However, most companies can’t afford to build their own equipment, Bechtolsheim added.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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