The Open Compute Project: Notes from the Open Compute Summit, NYC October 2011

You can’t beat the energy generated by assembling some of the best minds in the industry, as was done at the recent Open Compute Project Summit in New York City. The venue was amazing, held on a roof top with views of the Empire State Building, but the content was what impressed me the most.

Among the most important announcements from the Open Compute Project was the creation of an Industry Board of Directors.

The Industry Board of Directors consists of:

Along with talks by the board members were several interesting talks in the opening sessions. Here are just a few tidbits I found interesting:

Andy Bechtolsheim explained how open standards had always served to accelerate innovation. I liked it when he emphasized what Open Compute is not: it is not a standards group -- it is there to complement. It is not a customer panel--it is individuals who will make the work happen. And it is not a marketing organization--it will do things.

James Hamilton of Amazon Services, talked about how data center TCO drives decision making. He mentioned that Amazon’s business success hinges on the efficiency of its data center and computing infrastructure. According to James, “any workload worth more than the marginal cost of power is worth running on a server".

Jason Waxman, Director of High Density Computing at Intel, talked about Intel’s focus on high efficiency mother boards, Open Rack standards, optimized high temperature designs, microserver, scalable light-weight systems managements, and vendor enabling and innovation. With the already announced alliance of the Open Compute Project and the Open Data Center Alliance, we can expect a strong linkage between usage-based demand and engineering driven solutions.

Jimmy Pike, Dell DCS, emphasized his company’s commitment to remove accumulated overdesign across the infrastructure stream using standard form, fit, interfaces and technology elements. The idea of eliminating “gratuitous differentiation” to the benefit of customer value was very well received by the audience.

Open Compute has already achieved a lot, from 480VAC, reducing fan power to 6W per server, to sharing architectures that eliminate extra transformers and power conversions, all for efficiency’s sake. With the industry now starting to pull together, we can certainly expect a lot more.