Microsoft joins Open Compute Project, offers cloud server designs

Redmond has joined the Facebook-led datacentre infrastructure and offered up its designs for a 12U shared server chassis used in its Windows Azure, Bing, and Office 365 services.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Microsoft has announced that it is signing up to the Open Compute Project (OCP), a foundation created by Facebook in 2011 that publishes open hardware designs intended to be used to build datacentres relatively cheaply.

In combination with its membership, the company will be contributing to the project its Microsoft cloud server specification — a 12U shared server chassis capable of housing 24 1U servers — as well as releasing its Chassis Manager under the open-source Apache licence.

Bill Laing, Microsoft corporate vice president, cloud and enterprise, said in a blog post that the cloud server design has many advantages over the traditional enterprise server.

"Up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains, and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times," he said.

"We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by 10,000 tonnes across our base of 1 million servers."

Liang said that over its history, Microsoft has had extensive experience in building cloud infrastructure, dating back to the days of the original MSN network in the '90s, and that the company had invested over $15 billion in cloud infrastructure.

Additionally, Microsoft director of hardware deployment, Mark Shaw, has been elected as the chair of the OCP server committee through the OCP community voting process.

"Our hardware partners are developing products for Microsoft based on these specifications, and we look forward to availability of commercial offerings from our partners in the near future," said Kushagra Vaid, Microsoft general manager, server engineering.

The OCP has already released specifications for motherboards, chipsets, cabling, and common sockets and connectors, and turned its attention last year to solving the issue of open networking and switches.

Last year, AMD became the first company to release a motherboard based on OCP designs.

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