Feds Can Now Buy Open Compute Hardware

The Open Compute Project: now good enough for government work.

Hyve Solutions announced late last week that it has begun selling an Open Compute suite of data center solutions to the federal government, as part of GSA Schedule 70. Schedule 70 is the government’s approved list of vendors, products and services, developed by the U.S. General Services Administration, that allow those firms to offer millions of commercial products and services at volume-discount pricing.

The Open Compute Project began two years ago as an internal project within Facebook. Its goal: design custom data-center infrastructure capable of operating with supreme cost- and energy efficiency. Rather than keep that design knowledge in-house, Facebook decided to share the knowledge with other server and data-center designers, creating the OCP in the process.

This week, the Open Compute Summit will be held for the second time in Santa Clara, Calif., where a number of companies will collaborate and share their OCP designs. One of the new additions to the show will be a certification track, which will presumably let manufacturers attach a logo that demonstrates compliance with Open Compute specs.

The U.S. government has been working to make its data centers more efficient. As part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, 40 percent of the federal government’s data centers (or roughly 1,200) are scheduled to close by the end of 2015.

Hyve is the custom computing arm for Synnex, one of the largest distributors of Intel and AMD components, plus servers designed by Asus. The company has previously shipped Open Compute Project hardware to commercial customers. In November, Hyve built out an Open Compute Project concept lab, where customers could interact with the hardware, including the OCP version 2.0 specification and Open Rack hardware, in order to test workloads, certify software solutions and run other scenarios.

Hyve, for its part, claims that its products are already compliant with OCP, beginning with its custom, tool-less chassis. Each of the servers are housed in triplet racks, containing individual columns; each rack houses up to 90 chassis, with multiple motherboards, plus a pair of top-of-rack switches.

The units are less expensive and lighter than traditional servers, allowing for easier servicing; Facebook has referred to this as a “vanity-free” design, wherein proprietary technologies are eliminated from the design. The OCP power supply is a 450W power supply that features an AC/DC converter, a single 12.5V DC voltage, a closed frame, and the ability of the server to cool itself. The power supply includes independent AC/DC inputs and a DC output connector. Inside, Hyve said it has included a power-optimized, barebone motherboard designed to minimize operating costs.

Will the feds consider Open Compute hardware secure enough for government use, or will they require the security of a major IT vendor? That question could be answered over the next year or so.

 

Image: Eugene Kouzmenok/Shutterstock.com

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