With the Open Compute Summit 2016 just a few weeks away – March 9-10 in San Jose, CA – we’ve dedicated a few blog posts to the topics of open computing and holistic approaches to data centers:
Open Compute offers the ability to standardize data center components (racks, switches, servers and storage) which can prevent problems like varying rack heights, cabling issues and equipment/rack mismatches. For example, its standards get as specific as describing how racks should be designed and built. (According to Datacenter Dynamics, the original data center rack specification was created in the 1950s for mounting railroad signaling relays – and it hasn’t really changed since then.) But it’s not just about open hardware – it’s also about the open software that runs the system.
The Open Compute concept is starting to take hold in the financial industry, with big players like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs shifting from traditional data center hardware to hardware designed through the Open Compute Project. Could Open Compute become the data center norm, breaking up data center, rack and server components into modular parts that can be changed as needed?
Theoretically, Open Compute aims to make it easier for data center hardware to be consistent, which is critical to improving efficiency and minimizing the potential of downtime caused by human error.
With multiple vendors creating the same hardware with the same specs, you no longer have to worry about dealing with product discontinuation, finding the right components or managing inevitable product changes. It also levels the playing field among vendors, making purchases less about product features and more about what the manufacturer can offer: better customer support, faster turnaround on lead times and superior consultation services, for example.
Designed to offer low purchase and operating costs as compared to current hardware, Open Compute design removes extraneous components and materials from data center infrastructure. For Facebook, where Open Compute was first implemented, this data center platform uses 38% less energy and costs 24% less to purchase. The goal was to increase the amount of work the IT infrastructure could handle while driving down costs.
Open Compute allows one single design to be configured for different purposes to support common applications (high-performance computing, general-purpose server and storage-server applications, etc.).
Because the standards promote modularity and standardization, complete replacement isn’t necessary when it’s time for component upgrades. Upgrades are simpler and more cost effective. Data center components designed to Open Compute standards are also easier to re-deploy for different applications, reducing costs associated with application-specific systems. This all leads to space efficiency, scalability and lower operating expenses.
When lots of eyes are focused on the same problem, and working together to find a solution, the results can be rewarding. By promoting collaboration, Open Compute breaks down the traditional communications barriers among data center users, owners and vendors; companies no longer have to work alone to find or customize a component to suit specific needs.
Leaders from large organizations can share data center planning and development lessons learned with smaller data centers – and vice versa – leading to best practices that improve space utilization and lower energy and operating costs. Anyone can access Open Compute specifications and mechanical designs, and anyone can help implement and improve them. To get involved, you complete a membership agreement and submit it. Then, select a project to work on and sign the appropriate Contributor License Agreement.
Belden can help you reduce data center operating costs, lower energy expenses and establish a path to Open Compute. Find simple solutions to your data center challenges here.
Denis is a product line manager for Belden R&E folio. Denis hold a BSc in Mech Eng (1989); Denis’s focus on helping data center managers find solutions to density challenges, (cable mng, heat, power). He has been involved with deployment of over 3 million square feet of white space. In his spare time Denis enjoy golfing and MTB.