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January 30, 2014

IBM and Microsoft join with Facebook on its Open Compute project

The alliance is aimed at stimulating the development of more efficient computers to handle and store data online.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM and Microsoft have joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP) alliance, which is an open-source hardware effort to develop hardware for cloud and high-scale computing via open collaboration.

The alliance already has about 150 members, including Advanced Micro Devices and Seagate Technology, while Russian internet firm Yandex and cloud-storage provider Box.net are also planning to join the initiative.

Microsoft corporate vice president Cloud & Enterprise Bill Laing said the company will be contributing to the OCP what is called the Microsoft cloud server specification: the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacentres delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others.

"We are excited to participate in the OCP community and share our cloud innovation with the industry in order to foster more efficient datacenters and the adoption of cloud computing," Laing said.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said was cited by the Businessweek as saying: "From our perspective, it was much better to collaborate with the community and blow past what anyone else has done."

"At this point, I think we’re quite far ahead," Zuckerberg said.

With the latest entry into the alliance, Microsoft is aiming to bring down its equipment investments and facilitate consumers’ adoption of its Azure and other online services.

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Launched in April 2011, Facebook’s Open Compute Project is pressing on hardware manufacturers to develop computers, chips, racks and other components that would act as building blocks to consumers, while it is also targeting networking equipment, which is turning out to be highly commoditised and software-dependent.

British chipmaker ARM has unveiled a platform standard for ARMv8-A based (64-bit) servers on this occasion, known as the ARM ‘Server Base System Architecture’ (SBSA) specification with support from software companies such as Canonical, Citrix, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat and SUSE as well as OEM companies Dell and HP.

ARM said the specification will offer a framework for the deployment of ARM architecture-based solutions in data centre applications, and it will help accelerate software development and enable portability between ARM-based platforms.

Open Compute Project Foundation president and chairman Frank Frankovsky said the initiatives from ARM are very much in line with the principles of the Open Compute Project.

"These standardisation efforts will help speed adoption of ARM in the datacentre by providing consumers and software developers with the consistency and predictability they require, and by helping increase the pace of innovation in ARM technologies by eliminating gratuitous differentiation in areas like device enumeration and boot process,"Frankovsky said.

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