Open Compute Projects Makes Another Step Forward with Design and Panelboards for Data Centers

The Open Compute Project, started by Facebook earlier this year, is now gaining partners, momentum, and a real organizational structure. While the initiative is currently focused on Internet companies with large “scale out” styles of infrastructure, more and more companies are joining the project with the long-term project idea of open source hardware, such as panelboards for data centers, which could ultimately expand to the enterprise market and different size businesses to meet a wide variety of data center needs.

Frank Frankovsky, Hardware Design and Supply Chain at Facebook is very excited about how the original idea has taken off and where the possibilities can head.

“What began a few short months ago as an audacious idea – what if hardware were open? – is now a fully formed industry initiative, with a clear vision, a strong base to build from and significant momentum,” said Frankovsky of Facebook. “We are officially on our way.”

The original idea of the Open Compute Project was to publish data center designs originally developed by Facebook for its Prineville, Oregon data center. It also shared its custom designs for servers, power supplies, panelboards for data centers, and UPS units to help increase data center design knowledge.

The company’s decision to “open source” its designs is now pushing ideas and beliefs that large companies could share their cutting-edge data center designs with smaller companies that are unable to afford their own data center design team, as these projects can be quite expensive, and ultimately cost prohibitive for many. This represents a growing trend focusing on collaborative projects as a way to reduce costs and build time while increasing efficiency in data center construction and operation.

The Open Compute Project is just one of a handful of initiatives to bring standards, and ultimately repeatable designs, to IT infrastructure anywhere. Other projects on the table include the Open Data Center Alliance, Open Networking Foundation, Open Source Routing Forum, and OpenStack Foundation to develop a shared computing platform. These projects can create a new and unique forum for IT and data center professionals to learn from one another.

There is a hope that the Open Compute designs could become more practical for a broader array of data center professionals. Companies that specialize in build-to-suit data center space are joining in on the project for small businesses that adopt one of the Open Compute designs.

Adding Companies that Specialize in Power and panelboards for Data Centers

Participants are hoping to see more companies join the project that specializes in power, cooling, mechanical design, and panelboards for data centers as a way to share more information with the IT masses.

“We’re at a crossroads,” said Jimmy Pike, Chief Architect at Dell Data Center Solutions. “We’re at a time when we can work together and share knowledge to help things happen quickly.”