Facebook gains new partners in Open Compute Project for open-source data centers
The Open Compute Project announced by Facebook last April is gaining strength. It is designed to develop standards to allow companies to gain better control of the hardware used in data centers as opposed to it being locked down by vendors. Facebook has announced new members including Hewlett-Packard, AMD, Fidelity, Quanta, Tencent, Salesforce.com, VMware, Canonical and Supermicro, among others.
In a blog entry, OCP founding board member Frank Frankovsky wrote, "We've started to see a convergence of voices among the consumers of this technology around where we think the industry would benefit from standardization and where we think the opportunities for innovation are." One of the specifications for the Open Rack calls for a 21-inch rack, as opposed to the ubiquitous 19-inch standard currently in use around the world.
As observed by David Chernicoff on ZDNet, the change to a 21-inch rack is a beneficial one, despite representing an increase of only two inches. Chernicoff writes, "There are lots of good reasons for it, ranging from it allowing the installation of five 3.5-inch drives across the blade, rather than 4, to the additional space for CPUs and memory (remember that power is provided external to the boards)."
As you may expect, there are many challenges stacked against the standard. For one, current data centers are designed around 19-inch racks, not 21-inch ones. This extends beyond the cabinets to infrastructure such as cable runs, power trunks, raised floor tiling and ventilation, among other things. Finally, modular data centers designed around shipping containers will also have to be altered significantly to accommodate the new format--if it takes off.