Rackspace ‘Entering’ Server Arena Via Open Compute Project

Rackspace Hosting has announced plans to design its own Open Compute-compliant servers, which industry partners will manufacture. The company will then place the servers inside its own data centers.

In doing so, Rackspace follows a model pioneered by Facebook, which originally launched the Open Compute Summit where Rackspace made its announcement. Facebook designed its own data-center hardware as a way of freeing itself from the constraints of third-party servers designers. Open Compute Project-compliant servers are designed to be “vanity free,” eliminating fancy packaging that adds cost and complexity.

Rackspace’s manufacturing partners include Quanta and WiWynn (a spinoff of Wistron), with Delta involved in the actual rack build-out.

“It looks like we went to Home Depot to get those parts, doesn’t it?” Mark Roenigk, the chief operating officer of Rackspace, joked in an interview. “They’re not the most elegant.”

Rackspace modified the Open Rack design developed by the Open Compute group, trimming a power supply and adding space for cable management.  The company will also donate its server spec to the OCP. Rackspace executives said onstage that the cabinets are all “fully loaded up with gear” and currently in a quality-assurance development cycle.

Rackspace, which has previously been known for its strong support of the open-source OpenStack cloud-computing software, said its support for OCP technologies was consistent with its strategy. “We differentiate on customer support,” Roenigk said. “We want the infrastructure and the hardware within the data center to be commoditized. We’re the ones that gave away our cloud operating system. Other people may think we’re bold and stupid, but again, we’re competing for a piece of the cloud space with the support we provide.”

Facebook has also said it would contribute a “Group Hug” board to the OCP, a design that disaggregates the CPU into a modular daughtercard that can support ARM, AMD, or Intel chips; it will be known as the OCP Common Slot implementation. Roenigk said Rackspace is in favor of the idea.

“We think it has big legs,” Roenigk said of the OCP Common Slot. “We’ll probably implement that in our data centers, in our compute infrastructure, probably in Q4, of this year.”

Eventually, Roenigk said, the server will evolve over the next two or three years: “I don’t think that it’s going to be a box… Some of the things we’re doing now, that are in incubation, that you guys haven’t seen yet, are very different.”

He added: “We’re bored with the servers. You kind of got a peek at it, but you didn’t see how dense we can make that compute within a rack. Will we even have a rack? That’s something for the future.”

 

Image: asiana/Shutterstock.com

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