OCP and Open19: Addressing the Open Compute Needs of both Edge and Hyperscale Data Centers

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Over the last several years, the trend towards more open IT systems has accelerated.  The drivers–lower costs and operational efficiency–have brought together industry stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to form new consortiums. These collaborative industry initiatives like the Open Compute Project (OCP) and Open19  have proven to be valuable forums for sharing ideas and innovative designs. However, while these new ideas have been discussed and vetted, it has been somewhat difficult for end users to access purchasable, standardized solutions. Now, that is about to change. OCP and Open19 are taking slightly different approaches to the market and both will provide benefits to the community.

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OCP: Growing up with hyperscale efficiency

Although OCP has its roots firmly in the world of very large hyperscale data centers, the community has expanded into other applications like Telco, HPC, liquid cooling and wireless networks.  Specifications shared by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others offer the community a wide variety of choices.  The most popular design is the Open Rack V2 with 21” rails which features a centralized computer power supply unit (PSU) and 12VDC or 48VDC busbar distribution to the nodes.  New 19” rack compatible designs have also emerged in the form of Radisys carrier grade Telco racks and Microsoft’s Project Olympus cloud hardware.  Each new specification submitted to the foundation for approval is reviewed to ensure that deployment and operation of the IT equipment is simple and cost effective.

Although it is still difficult for the broad market to purchase OCP gear, the foundation launched its online marketplace, which will make it much easier for purchasers to access solutions and vendors.

Open19: An “edgy” approach to open hardware

Open19, the more recent and lesser known initiative, was launched with a flourish by LinkedIn in late 2016, and was positioned as a better alternative to OCP.  Since then, much of the work has been accomplished behind the scenes, and a summit in late September of this year will showcase the group’s accomplishments.

Open19 is designing its architecture to better support edge applications. A close look at the architecture reveals how.  As one might expect, the design is based on the common 19” rack and is built up using inexpensive “brick cages” or chassis which can fit up to 24 nodes.  The specifications for the bricks/trays are open and IT manufacturers will be able to design as they wish, allowing them to plug right into the chassis.  Deployments at the edge will come in many sizes and the Open19 architecture will allow for cost effective deployment anywhere from a several RU micro data center, to a room full of racks.  Open19 gear cannot yet be purchased, but the project is backed by significant market influencers, and solutions will likely hit the streets in 2019.

Trends driving the need for more collaboration

Major trends, like edge computing and the imminent rollout of 5G are fueling interest in collaborative associations such as OCP and Open19. As many applications are now getting closer to the user, edge computing environments are acting as an extension of the cloud, and open strategies need to support environments where links between local IT pockets and large data centers are optimized.  In the case of 5G, as the bandwidth “pipe” grows ever larger, more and more users will be streaming video for both business and personal use. Brand new apps will be developed to take advantage of the larger bandwidth. Telecommunications operators will need micro data center edge computing technologies to support cell towers and transmission antennas wherever they may be located.

As technologies increase in complexity, organizations like OCP and Open19 share the goal of creating flexible and economic data center and edge computing solutions. This will help to address the needs of operators and administrators from all sizes of organizations as they initiate and participate in projects based on open hardware and software solutions. This will allow for the new environments to be customizable, flexible and economical.

Access Open Compute Resources

In order to help drive more Certainty in a Connected World and to learn more about how Schneider Electric supports efforts to embrace more open IT architectures, visit our updated Open Compute Solutions web page. What are your thoughts about these open compute initiatives?  We’d love to hear your comments.

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