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Microsoft joins OCP project, IBM sells its x86 server business. Will cloud services boost the data center market changes in 2014?

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Open Compute Project, OCP, which was announced by Facebook in April 2011 and presented on Turing’s Man Blog at the beginning of 2012, is going well, however, not so many news are published and publicly discussed in the industry. Why? That’s an interesting question. All in all, this seems to be very important initiative, which gained lots of popularity among, at least, some of recognizable industry leaders. Now, Microsoft decided to join Open Compute Project and share the designs of their servers and related technology. This might be an important moment not only for OCP, but also for the whole data center industry.

 

As we can read in Ars Technica’s article by Jon Brodkin:

 

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Microsoft joining Open Compute boosts the chances that the project might have some impact on the server industry.

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We should also note, that according to Ars Technica’s article and related sources:

 

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Microsoft has more than 1 million servers across all of its data centers, which run cloud services such as Windows Azure, Office 365, and Bing, as well as Microsoft's internal applications.

The newly public designs have been rolled out to Microsoft data centers over the past 9 or 10 months, and Microsoft intends to make them the standard for future deployments.

"They offer dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times," Laing wrote in a blog post. "We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by 10,000 tons across our base of 1 million servers."

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 OCP Summit V - January 28, 2014 San Jose Convention Center, San Jose California. Microsoft Datacenters at Cloud Scale, Bill Laing, CVP, Windows Server and System Center Group Development, Microsoft. As presented by Open Compute Project channel on YouTube - we can learn about Microsoft's contribution to OCP

 

Currently, Microsoft and Facebook are the most significant OCP contributors. What we can see is the fact, that big companies do really count money when it is related to infrastructure efficiency and data center technologies. Who knows? Maybe the big vendors, like HP, Dell or Cisco should start to think about their competitiveness in the future? Especially, because OCP can develop data center technologies which might not only be cheaper, but also reliable enough to replace some well-established solutions. Looking from a little bit different perspective, but very closely related, we can read in Ars Technica’s article:

 

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In addition to public specifications for servers, motherboards, storage, racks, and interconnects, the Open Compute Project last year declared its intent to create a top-of-rack switch that could run just about any networking software and replace hardware typically sold by Cisco.

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So, when we think about OCP, we should realize that this initiative is not only about open server specifications and designs. Its goal is to prepare a full set of alternative – and more cost effective – data center technologies to boost public cloud services and associated business offerings.

 

Jay Parikh, VP of Infrastructure Engineering, Facebook, talks about where The Open Compute Project has been and where it is going! - as presented by OreillyMedia channel on YouTube

 

The whole market situation is even more interesting, when we realize the latest changes in IBM x86 server business. Some days ago, the same Ars Technica informed (in the article by Sean Gallagher), that:

 

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IBM was again shopping its x86 server unit around — including talks with Dell — Lenovo executives announced that they had reached an agreement with IBM to buy the business for the price of $2.3 billion.

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The deal puts Lenovo in a position to better compete with Hewlett-Packard and Dell in the enterprise market in a time when sales of notebook and desktop PCs are particularly soft. “We are confident that we can grow this business successfully for the long term, just as we have done with our worldwide PC business,” Lenovo chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing said in an official statement on the acquisition.

[…]

 

What next with IBM? According to the same source – IBM wants to focus on its System Z and Power line of servers, as well as storage systems and specialized server appliances. Only x86 server architecture was a the subject of this deal. Also, IBM plans to focus more on:

 

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Watson “cognitive computing” platform, cloud computing services, and lucrative consulting business.

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An official statement of IBM’s representative, Steve Mills, Head of Software and Systems business, uncovers some more details behind the deal with Lenovo – as presented by TheStreet channel on YouTube 

 

Honestly, this seems to be an interesting period in the nearest future – we should see the results of these changes quite soon. Once again we can agree – there is no stagnation in the data center industry and cloud computing services are the most driving factor of today’s changes. So, cloud services will definitely boost the data center market in 2014. Especially, because there is no cloud computing services without reliable and cost efficient data center infrastructure.

 

 

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