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Open Compute: Boutique Hardware In A Populist Wrapper
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Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
2/5/2014 | 9:55:50 AM
Re: Open Compute: Scale-out Hardware In A Cloud Harness
Hi Charlie,

You make a good point about the data center essentially becoming the computer. But I think the big hitch at this point is more about software than hardware. There's a lot of orchestration and management that has to happen among the disparate hardware components to get the goal of allocating and re-allocating resources on the fly. Network and storage vendors are under a lot of pressure to give up some of the control they currently exercise over their pieces of the private cloud stack. We're starting to see that pressure in the form of APIs and protocols that allow for more intelligence and decision-making to move into a controller or orchestration layer, but it's just getting started. I think the real fight--and the real potential for innovation in private clouds--will come from software, not hardware.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 3:09:10 PM
OCP shifts design control to the customer
And another thing, Drew. There's no reason why HP, Dell or Lenovo won't become major manufacturers of OCP designs. They already produce them, grudgingly, when customers ask for them. That's the real point about Open Compute. Power over the design shifts from the manufacturer to the consumer, which makes already slender margins a little thinner. And the private cloud builder knows he's got some say over his next generation of hardware. Facebook and financial services want that. Anyone trying to makeover their data center, as Bank of America is, wants some say over the components going into it. I think eventually, Open Compute will play a role in creating a baseline, common denominator set of devices, mass produced to a very large scale for many customers, It hasn't happened yet, I know. But it will.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 1:35:39 PM
Open Compute: Scale-out Hardware In A Cloud Harness
That's a great line of attack, Drew, and all too true for the server market as we know it. But that market is changing rapidly and Open Compute will end up with a major role in how it changes. The margins are already razor thin on general purpose servers commonly used in enterprise data centers. The new market is for scalable designs where the data center becomes the computer. That is, all the resources in the data center can be linked and directed to act as much larger systems through scale-out techniques. Open Compute started because Facebook needed such a design. Everyone is not Facebook. But on the other hand, every enterprise wants to gain the advantages of the cloud's economies of scale. Some will do so by going to the public cloud. But many will build a private cloud. Right now, financial services is leading the way, as it often does, and financial services likes simplified, easily configured and managed, and let me say, open source, design. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 1:10:09 PM
Re: Cost advantage
I see Open Compute's potential more in the area of networking than in servers. Perhaps the networking industry will go the way of the server industry -- toward lower prices and commodization. It already has to some extent. But there are lots of networking vendors still earning fat profit margins on their systems. We'll see if customers think they're getting enough value from them.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 12:36:57 PM
Cost advantage
The key question raised here: Is it all that big a cost savings to adopt open compute designs? Open source software could attack the soft underbelly of the proprietary model's fat profit margins. In servers at least, the environment is one of falling prices and margins --  witness IBM exiting the x86 business. Does that make networking equipment, where margins are stronger, a likely candidate for adoption of these designs? 


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