OCP Summit V: The future is open

It's been a year since we last came together, and our momentum continues to build. Our community now numbers in the thousands -- more than 3,400 people registered for the fifth Open Compute Summit, which is now in progress in San Jose -- and we have more than 150 official members, including new partners like Bloomberg, Box, Cumulus Networks, IBM, IO, LSI, Microsoft, and Yandex. We are also growing rapidly outside North America, with OCP Japan and OCP Taiwan bringing together dozens of new members in its first year as a chapter, and new chapters beginning to form in Europe, Korea, Philippines, and Australia / New Zealand. 

We've accomplished a lot in the last year: We expanded the foundation staff, welcoming Amber Graner as community manager and Hugh Blemings as director of certification. We held engineering workshops every six weeks, bringing together thousands of participants from around the world to advance the work of each of our projects. And we launched a new project in 2013: networking. Our aim with this new project was to begin to open up the network hardware stack with the development of an open, OS-agnostic switch. This was a new challenge for us -- typically our projects have been formed around existing contributions -- but we delivered, and we did it quickly: After just six months, we unveiled the first set of contributions in the project, from Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Intel, and Mellanox.

The pace of innovation in the industry has also continued to accelerate, and in the past year we've seen a wealth of OCP-inspired technology advancements and contributions from across the community. Here are just a few examples: 

  • AMD: Today at the summit, AMD showcased a development platform for its first 64-bit ARM-based server CPU and contributed a new microserver design to OCP that is compatible with the common-slot architecture specification dubbed “Group Hug.”

  • Facebook: Facebook has contributed its new "Honey Badger" microserver adapter to OCP, and today at the summit they showcased their new rapid deployment datacenter concepts and their new optical storage prototype. Facebook also shared that OCP and related efficiency efforts have helped the company save more than $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs over the last three years.

  • Fidelity: Fidelity has contributed the designs for its "Open Bridge Rack," which enables the deployment of OCP storage and server designs in legacy 19" racks. 

  • Hyve: Hyve has contributed the designs for its 1500 Series server designs, which are also designed to fit into legacy 19" racks.

  • IO: Also today, IO announced a new containerized data center solution that employs OpenStack and Open Compute Project hardware. IO already has several customers for this new service, including Merck.

  • Microsoft: Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it has joined the Open Compute Project and is contributing designs for the servers that power global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, and Bing.   

  • LSI: LSI announced that it has joined the Open Compute Project, and they immediately contributed two designs: a 12G SAS expander upgrade to the Open Vault storage system and a flash storage card that provides low-latency flash storage to server-based applications. 

  • Seagate: Seagate has contributed its Kinetic open storage platform, which is designed to prevent scale bottlenecks in storage.

  • Quanta: Quanta has contributed the entire line of Open Rack-compatible products they co-developed with Rackspace. 

As impressive as all of this is, some of the work I'm most proud of from the past year has been in our efforts to make it easier for people to collaborate on the development of new OCP technologies, contribute those technologies to the OCP Foundation, and consume them in whatever combination best fits their needs:

  • Supporting the OCP Solution Provider ecosystem: We've seen a lot of growth here in the last year, and there are now seven official OCP Solution Providers: AMAX, Avnet, CTC, Hyve, Penguin Computing, Quanta, and Racklive. These companies provide new options for consumers who want to deploy OCP designs, and new routes to market for innovative new technologies. All these companies are making big investments in OCP, building labs of their own and contributing the designs for the OCP products they develop for customers back to the foundation.

  • New certification process: We've developed a rigorous compliance and interoperability process, with two levels of certification: "OCP Ready" and "OCP Certified." These certifications will provide consumers with assurance that the products with these labels have been thoroughly tested and meet the standards set by the OCP community. Two new labs have been established -- UTSA and ITRI -- to manage the certification process. Wiwynn was the first company to successfully achieve OCP certification for one of their products, Quanta quickly followed. 

  • New OCP hardware license: Since our inception a little more than two years ago, we've used a relatively "permissive" license (modeled on Apache) to govern contributions. Soon we will roll out a second, more "prescriptive" license (modeled on GPL) that will require anyone who modifies an original design and then sells that design to contribute the modified version back to the foundation. It's our hope that having multiple licensing options will lead to even more OCP technology contributions.

Looking at all this progress and forward momentum, I can't help but think that 2014 is our year. New technologies are being developed and contributed; new products and new businesses are being launched; and new OCP technologies are being adopted. We are reinventing this industry together, in the open, and everyone has a chance to contribute — to help ensure that all the technologies we develop and consume are as scalable as possible, as efficient as possible, and as innovative as possible.

Thanks to all of your hard work, the future is open. So let's keep going!