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Open Compute Project for data center efficiency. Will it work?

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OCP, Open Compute Project - I skipped this, when it was announced in April 2011, but now it's high time to write some words here. It's a really interesting initiative by Facebook – to share custom data center designs in many fields, involve other parties openly and help to make data centers more efficient.


To understand the background behind Open Compute Project and its goals we have to read carefully its – let's call it – "manifesto". I'll make quotation right from their website – where under the slogan "Hacking Conventional Computing Infrastructure" we read:




We started a project at Facebook a little over a year ago with a pretty big goal: to build one of the most efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest possible cost. We decided to honor our hacker roots and challenge convention by custom designing and building our software, servers and data centers from the ground up – and then share these technologies as they evolve.


The result is a data center full of vanity free servers which is 38% more efficient and 24% less expensive to build and run than other state-of-the-art data centers.


By releasing Open Compute Project technologies as open hardware, our goal is to develop servers and data centers following the model traditionally associated with open source software projects. That’s where you come in.




Don't be scared of this hacker roots mentioned above. Better see this as a guarantee of positive hacking attitude, a clear message that Open Compute Project is here to solve demanding issues with smart ideas. You know, hackers believe there are no "impossible things" - this is their driver to find solutions, where others gave up. Therefore, in this particular example we can be sure we will find many interesting solutions out of all possible domains related to data center, like:


  • Server Technology:
    • Intel Motherboards
    • AMD Motherboards
    • Power Supplies
    • Chassis


  • Data Center Technology:
    • Triplet Racks
    • Battery Cabinet
    • Data Center Electrical
    • Data Center Mechanical


Above domains are self explainable, so I won't go much into details – you can read more on OCP website.





"Introducing the Open Compute Project" - this video explains a lot, however it is limited to designing new, optimized server architecture [published by user theofficialfacebook on YouTube]




What is really nice is that Facebook is trying to use the same model we know from open source software world. OCP plans to release technologies for data centers as an open hardware. This could be really innovative, if at the end it will be the success, which in data center industry could be comparable with, well... Let's skip to the software world again: GNU/Linux? – this is the best example comparing to the most successful open source project. Who knows...


I hope they will not forget about software supporting daily data center management like good, open source DCIM solutions, monitoring systems etc. This is also a quite interesting field to explore and however rather software related it really needs a good hardware basis. You know what I mean – close integration for better control means increased efficiency.


Efficiency? It's all about having control over the data center seen as one, big system of interrelated domains placed on many layers of architecture – starting from the physical layer, understood as a foundation (site location and construction, power, cooling, cabling, rack cabinets, physical security etc.), through network – LAN/SAN, storage, server hardware up to software systems, databases, applications... Virtualization included in between.


And, what is important – everyone can contribute to the Open Compute Project! So, if you have some mad ideas, don't wait for others.

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