Driving Data Center Innovation Through the Open Compute Project

by Howard Wu, Head of Product Line Software Defined Infrastructure, Business Unit Cloud & IP at Ericsson

At Ericsson we want to drive innovation and openness in the datacenter infrastructure industry, and we believe this is one of the keys to accelerate digital industrialization for 5G and the IoT. With this in mind, we have joined the Open Compute Project (OCP) as a Platinum member.

The OCP was initiated by Facebook in 2011, and the mission of its community of engineers is “to design and enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage and data center hardware designs for scalable computing.” And the OCP has been consistently innovating around open source contributions for networking, servers, storage and Open Rack ever since.

A vision of a Networked Society

We believe in this mission, as well as minimizing environmental impacts wherever possible and sharing best practices and learning together.  It is fully in line with our vision of a Networked Society built on mobility, broadband and cloud. The Networked Society overturns old models and enables and requires a new logic across industries, including telco and IT, as consumers become users; production is decentralized; sharing becomes the norm; and data, connected things and platforms become valuable resources in their own right.

Hardware standardization

Our specific mission within the OCP, including the OCP Telco Project, is to drive hardware standardization to achieve the goals for software defined infrastructure. As a Platinum OCP member, Ericsson will collaborate with the OCP community around software defined infrastructure and the Ericsson Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000, with a core ambition to drive the adoption of the Intel® Rack Scale Architecture together with Intel.

Ericsson plans to contribute designs around future datacenter physicals. This includes the ensuring of Intel Rack Scale Architecture within OCP compliant designs.  The adoption of Intel Rack Scale Architecture is key to our vision of future completely automated datacenters, similar to the way industrial manufacturing is highly automated.

Extending our portfolio

Through our OCP membership and a corresponding partnership with Quanta, Ericsson will extend its portfolio and introduce electrical server and rack choices in addition to current optical solutions. The extended portfolio will be available in the current design, and in the future, in OCP compliant designs. All designs and component alternatives will be managed under one common software control plane in order to enable continuous management improvement, analytical insights and preparations for future automation and machine learning opportunities.

Specifically, the expanded Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000 family, which leads open standard software defined infrastructure and datacenter solutions, will have an OCP compliant form factor in both its optical and electrical versions.

Optical backplane

The disaggregated architecture of the Intel Rack Scale Architecture scales up or scales down to quickly adapt to changing workloads. When combined with the optical interconnect in the hyperscale system, the disaggregated architecture enables more efficient pooling of compute, storage, and network resources. For us it will be important to drive adoption of interoperability between designs that have optical interfaces within OCP.

The optical backplane provides extremely high-speed connections between the compute, storage, and networking resources of Ericsson Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000, whether they are configured physically or into vPODs. The optical speed eliminates the traditional distance and capacity limitations of electrical connections, and it is possible to pool resources from anywhere in the datacenter without worrying about bottlenecks.

Finally, open standards are a great idea. Just ask any developer.  The same is true for the infrastructure of the digital economy.  Shared, open standards lead to better, more efficient and interoperable products.  And the benefits will be shared by vendors and customers alike.

Sign up for our upcoming webinar (two options are provided) if you would like to know more about Ericsson’s recent announcements related to hyperscale IT infrastructure and cloud:

Thursday 10 March 2016, 08:00 CET & Thursday 10 March 2016, 17:00 CET

Howard joined Ericsson in 2014. He has a long standing career in technology having worked from hardware manufacturing to software services in countries from China, Canada, US and Sweden. Howard founded Layerboom in 2009 and was acquired by Joyent, a US leading Cloud Service Provider in 2010. Since the acquisition, Howard acted as General Manager for Joyent Canada and later President of Greater China for Joyent prior to joining Ericsson.  Throughout his career, Howard has driven successful outcomes through strong team cultures built around collaboration, understanding and meeting business needs while continuing to drive the best in class technology forward.