Open data center standards represent a brave new world for data center infrastructure (DCI) products. This world is exemplified by three key groups. These groups are developing and sharing standards and reference designs for DCI hardware, with the aim of helping data center organizations reduce costs through efficient design and hardware utilization. Heeral Kota, principal research analyst at Gartner, provided an overview of the three prevailing standards:
Open Compute Project (OCP)
Established in 2011 by Facebook
About: The OCP was founded for Facebook to share the learnings of building its own data centers. It develops and shares designs for compute, storage and general DCI, relating to servers, chassis and racks, as well as their power and cooling. It seeks to offer energy-efficient and low-cost open-source solutions for both hardware and software, and aims for these to be interoperable and collaborative.
The Open Compute Project Foundation can count some powerful brands among its membership, including Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. It leverages the skills of a global community of engineers from major end users.
Scale: Has momentum and the potential to overpower rival standards. Alternatively, its subprojects could become new standards of their own, creating versions of the OCP for different markets and bolstering the profile of the overarching standard.
Established in 2011 by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent
About: Project Scorpio is a full-fledged open DCI standard with significant visibility in the Chinese market. It seeks to create a modular and highly efficient rack-based DCI standard for easier design and delivery. The standard includes six subsystems (rack, node, fan, power, management and network) and focuses on front-end maintenance. It requires some modification from a standard data center. In November 2014, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent formed the Open Data Center Committee with China Telecom, China Mobile and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. Three workgroups operate under this committee, for servers, data centers, and testing and certification. Intel also provides technology advice for Project Scorpio.
Scale: Has become a fundamental part of the servers workgroup. While focusing on a narrower range of features than the OCP, Project Scorpio could see momentum with sufficient local adoption.