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January 28, 2016updated 30 Aug 2016 3:13pm

Telcos back open source with Facebook’s OCP data centre project

News: EE, Deutsche Telekom and AT&T have signed up to boost industry engagement.

By Alexander Sword

Telecoms providers are signing up to the Facebook-led Open Compute Project (OCP) in an attempt to drive open collaboration in data centres.

Operators including EE, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom and Verizon are joining a new OCP Telco Project, which will work as an open forum to help the OCP more effectively serve the telecoms industry.

The open forum will aim to communicate the technical requirements of telcos effectively to the OCP community.

It will also work to strengthen the OCP ecosystem to address telcos’ deployment and operational needs, as well as bring OCP innovations to telco’s data centre infrastructure.

The OCP was founded five years ago with the principle of applying open source principles to hardware. The coalition of companies aims to create energy- and cost-efficient infrastructure solutions and share them as open source. This focuses on open source contributions for networking, servers, storage and Open Rack.

New OCP switches from Mellanox, Accton and Inventec have been accepted in recent months, as well as Wedge, an open TOR network switch from Facebook.

Nokia, a long-term partner of the project, has announced that they will incorporate OCP designs into its AirFrame Data Center Portfolio. Equinix and Nexius have also joined OCP to help telecommunications companies to find efficiency and flexibility benefits through open hardware.

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Facebook launched a new data centre in Ireland on 25 January, revealing that the racks, servers, and other components that will be deployed in the data centre have been designed and built from scratch as part of the Open Compute Project.

Jason Taylor, President and Chairman of the OCP Board and VP of Infrastructure at Facebook, said: "OCP community momentum is strong, and we get closer to our vision of better and more open hardware development each time a new industry embraces the principles of openness and customisation.

"Leaders in telecommunications embracing OCP signifies the start of a new and exciting chapter as we work together to enable better designs, easier adoption, and efficiency gains across the board."

"We are committing resources and expertise to OCP to support development of new approaches to telecommunication technology that can really make a difference to the way in which we build and deploy mobile communications networks in developed markets like the UK," said Mansoor Hanif, Director of Radio Access Networks at EE.

"For the last 18 months we’ve been developing our ambitious plans in this space, working behind the scenes to drive real disruption in the industry, and this is a major part of that disruptive work. We look forward to the next phase of implementing the new approaches developed within OCP."

Nicholas F Jeffery, Data Centre Solutions at CBRE, said: The "open compute project" is a great project – but nothing new in reality… its taking OpenSource down to the hardware level. The underlying technologies behind data centres are well understood by their users regardless of this being Retail or Wholesale collocation.

"Energy consumption, renewable or non-renewable is a significant driver and has enormous impact – Open source software and now hardware will democratise access to the best server, storage and data centre technologies.

"Customers know what they need and want and CBRE is already seeing collaboration between users and technology providers The industry has been striving for the most efficient use of servers, especially as density gets higher per rack. The interesting view might be if this increases churn between data centre companies as the platform is the same and relatively easy to switch."


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