Open Compute Project: Converged infrastructure promise without lock-in?

Open Compute Project: Converged infrastructure promise without lock-in?

Summary: Frank Frankovsky, chair and president of the OCP, says a new group of enterprise suppliers is emerging to offer "converged infrastructure without the proprietary bullshit that goes with it."

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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.

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Frankovsky

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.

Also: Fusion-io partners with Quanta, eyes Open Compute bandwagon | Microsoft joins Open Compute Project, offers cloud server designs

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."

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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.
ocp adopt

Topics: Data Centers, Open Source, Servers

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7 comments
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  • Yes, we need to Open Source profits from all of computing

    It is pretty funny how IBM financially supported the propagation of Linux in the server industry, wiping out lower end UNIX vendors, then later larger companies like Sun. Now IBM has become the victim of its own actions, as Linux has driven value out of servers, which has helped made the public cloud, more competitive than its offerings. Now the Open Source geniuses are it again, aiming to wipe value out of the server business, and make it profitless like the Android ecosystem for almost everyone. So I guess we can start waving goodbye to HP, Dell, and others. Sigh.
    P. Douglas
    • Who cares?

      How little you understand the motivation of people outside the business world. It's all about getting things done with as little friction as possible. I guess there's a disconnect. I am not from the business world, just a grunt who has to deal with this stuff. The last thing I want is some d-bag salesman from a vendor trying to pitch his lock-in tech. Or some cowardly CTO buying it because of worthless support contracts, solely so he has someone to sue if things go off into the weeds.

      I just want to get things done without all the secondary BS attached to it. I couldn't care less if IBM or anyone else digs their own grave. The code will live on, and I'll continue being able to do interesting things and solve problems.
      spackle
      • Everyone should

        Well the long term impact is less companies around, leading to less jobs, less taxes, less innovation, etc. resulting in an overall contraction of the industry. This of course will lead to the less need for sys admins, resulting in your job being at risk.

        People ignore the basic truth that proprietary = profits (note Apple Inc.) and overly openness leads to little to no profits. E.g. the reason why a kid cannot make money from a stand that sells tap water, is due to the fact that tap water can be found almost everywhere. However the kid can make money from lemonade, due to its relative scarcity. Open Source advocates keep pushing technologies which eliminates all scarcity; and many companies foolishly embrace them, making their own technologies less scarce, and hence less valuable.

        People can knock proprietary all they want, but proprietary is the foundation of all businesses. If a company cannot offer something that is unique, it can never stay in business.
        P. Douglas
    • IBM is NOT a victem of its own actions...

      Just as unloading the PC segment wasn't a failure... It got them out from under a number of contracts that restricted what they could do.

      Unloading the X86 based servers gets it out from under more.

      It is still into the server business - BIG time, just look at the Power 7 line. Or the z systems line.

      AIX and Linux are both right there, front and center.

      Windows? Nowhere to be seen.

      HP, Dell and the others can move to Linux servers... Though they still have all the problems that came with the Intel architecture and chipset: really crappy I/O. rather crappy power use... and expensive CPU chips.
      jessepollard
      • Yes it is

        IBM couldn't differentiate on either hardware or software sufficiently in the x86 server market, so now it has taken refuge with higher end hardware where it can make a differentiation. When people see Linux on x86, all they care about is price. Efforts at software differentiation doesn't appear to make a difference. This is the classic devaluing effect of OSS. So yes, IBM became undermined by its own push of Linux, because it drove value out of software differentiation on x86 UNIX / Linux servers.

        P. Douglas
        P. Douglas
  • Sure . . .

    Microsoft, Facebook, Riot Games?

    They'll have one rarely used, never heard of piece of software using this tech just to make sure they appear on this list.

    The rest will be proprietary lock-in.
    CobraA1
  • OCP ? RoboCop ?

    Isn't the CORPORATION in the RoboCop franchise OCP ? They ran DETROIT ? and ultimately RoboCop takes them down ?
    Evisscerator