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LinkedIn, HPE Create Open19 Foundation For Open Data Centre Servers

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Watch out OCP? Open19 Foundation will push its data centre blueprint for next generation, standardised servers

Big names in the tech industry have banded together to create the Open19 Foundation to develop a server standard for all types of data centres.

Founding members include Flex, GE Digital, HP Enterprise, LinkedIn and Vapor IO.

At this stage it is not clear how the Open19 Foundation intends to work with other industry consortia, such as the Facebook created Open Compute Project and the Apache Foundation, who are pursuing similar goals.

data centre

Concept To Industry Standard

It was back in July 2016 when LinkedIn created the Open19 project as a way to develop open standards for data centre servers based on a common form factor.

And since that time, and apparently encouraged by community support, the founding members have establish the Open19 Foundation as a way of taking the Open19 concept and turning it into an industry standard.

“The Open19 Foundation seeks to create project-based open hardware and software solutions for the data centre industry,” explained LinkedIn’s Principal Engineer Yuval Bachar. “The Foundation is now open for contributions and for building an ecosystem of users and suppliers.”

According to the Foundation, one of the initial hardware contributions to the foundation will be the Open19 Platform industry specification that will define a common server form factor for operators of all sizes.

“The Open19 Platform represents a simple solution for a complex problem, so it’s no surprise that the response from the community has been so strong,” said Bachar, who is also president of the Open19 Foundation. “With the formation of the foundation, and the addition of our new partners, we can now begin capitalising on this interest from the community and building on the vision for the Open19 open platform.”

The Open19 concept was driven by the need for a server solution that would not only fit any location and facility footprint, but also be optimised for any size data centres.

“Hewlett Packard Enterprise is excited to be a founding member of Open19 as part of a community of technology partners building open standards that have applicability for data centres of all sizes, helping to improve productivity, increase flexibility and enable fast deployment and integration,” said Justin Hotard, GM at HPE Service Provider, Hyperscale, and OEM Solutions.” HPE sees clear customer benefits for implementing modularised offerings that fit the needs of cloud businesses today and for the future.”

But what exactly is this new Open19 platform?

Well it seems that it will be based on standard building blocks including standard 19” 4-post rack, within a brick cage. There will with a power shelf (12v distribution, OTS power modules with any AC or DC inputs); optional battery backup unit (BBU); networking switch (ToR); and snap-on power cables (up to 400w per brick, linear growth with size) and snap-on data cables (up to 100G per brick, linear growth with size).

The Open19 standard therefore hopes to be more modular and efficient to install, as well as containing components that are easy to multi-source and use.

Open Compute Rival?

LinkedIn is of course now owned by Microsoft, and last year it had pledged to continue its history of open-sourcing some of its core technology to the benefit of the community.

The business social network for example last year published an open source a data management system that it said would help speed up mobile applications for Apple’s iOS, particularly those that handle large amounts of data.

The irony of course is that Microsoft has been a member of the Open Compute Project (OCP) since 2014. The OCP is the Facebook-backed initiative that seeks to develop cheaper, more energy-efficient data centre designs.

Microsoft said at the time that it would contribute what it called the “Microsoft cloud server specification” to the OCP, but it remains to be seen how the Open19 Foundation and OCP will avoid treading on each other toes.

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