Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Take control of your technology future. The Open Compute Project is reimagining hardware, making it more efficient, flexible and scalable.
Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled Project Olympus at the DatacenterDynamics Zettastructure summit in London. The company is collaborating with the Open Compute Project community and views this as a new model for open-source hardware development.
In 2011, Facebook along with Intel, Goldman Sachs, Rackspace and others, launched the Open Compute Project. The aim of the initiative was to create a movement in the hardware space that would bring about the same kind of creativity and collaboration seen in open-source software. The concept has enjoyed some success, creating a growing, global community whose mission is to design, use and enable the mainstream delivery of the most efficient designs for saleable computing. Microsoft joined the Open Compute Project in 2014 and Google did so earlier in 2016.
Microsoft has been a significant contributor to open-source projects for the past decade, particularly with Microsoft Azure. The company's initial contributions were server and data centre designs that powered the Azure cloud.
Project Olympus applies a model of open-source collaboration that has been embraced for software but has had a lower profile in hardware development. The traditional approach to the open-source model is the contribution of ready-to-use code and designs, but Project Olympus isn't ready for production yet. The concept is to ensure that the community can collaborate in the design process. The Project Olympus design includes a new motherboard and a high-availability power supply, a server chassis with high-density storage expansion, and a new power distribution unit for server racks.
By sharing designs that are in development, Project Olympus will allow the community to contribute to the ecosystem by fine-tuning the hardware design. Open-source development of hardware is currently not as agile and iterative as software and Microsoft would like to change that. The modular design will also allow potential customers to use it inside their existing data centre configurations.
Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM and Amazon have been racing each other in a bid to take the lead in cloud infrastructure. Project Olympus is another attempt by Microsoft to forge ahead of its rivals. The new server design will be submitted to the open-source Open Compute Project for others to use, while Microsoft plans to deploy it in data centres by the middle of 2017.