The Open Computer Project, an open source hardware effort designed to revamp data centers and how they run, has multiple efforts revolving around efficiency to racks to networking protocols. But from a practical enterprise standpoint it's worth watching OCP's solution provider effort, which is directly aimed at revamping the supplier equation, and an attack on the converged infrastructure sales pitch.
From a pure tech sports perspective, the OCP's solution provider ranks are getting interesting. Forget the usual server suspects. Quanta, a contract equipment manufacturer, has gained a bevy of OCP certifications for servers without vanity badges. Companies like Hyve Solutions, Penguin Computing and Racklive are in the OCP supplier orbit. Avnet may be the only traditional technology name in the fold from a pure integration standpoint.
In his keynote on Tuesday at the group's annual powwow, Frank Frankovsky, chair and president of the OCP, said technology had a business model problem where technologies would hit a bottleneck and limited number of suppliers on the way to the actual IT buyers. Pick your enterprise big name---IBM, HP, Oracle et. al.---as a bottleneck to innovation example.
According to Frankovsky (his other job is VP of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook), OCP's supplier ranks aim to provide the benefits of converged infrastructure (a unified integrated system) without the lock-in that comes with it. "Converged infrastructure is locked in," said Frankovsky. "The OCP solution provider network's role is in bringing converged infrastructure without the proprietary bullshit that goes with it."
Frankovsky's take rings true in many areas. Every tech giant puts their work in adding proprietary twists and integration to converged systems to justify higher prices. OCP's real disruption would come if that integration can come in a format where there are multiple providers playing in an open data center format.
It remains to be seen how OCP's suppliers deliver on the converged infrastructure promise, but it's going to be fun to watch.
Other key points from Frankovsky's talk:
- OCP's licensing will look more like a general public license going forward to "kick off a fly wheel of derivative works" and the innovation that comes with it.
- Frankovsky said certification from OCP labs will be critical to ensure custom work will be supportable.
- There will be more processor choice and ARM and AMD are doing unique things.
- A lot of innovation is coming from companies like Fidelity, which came up with a way to transform standard racks into ones supporting open racks. The idea is to bridge legacy gear to open computer equipment over time.