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Telco Data Centers Embrace Facebook Open Compute Project

For the second time this week, the Open Compute Project (OCP) is showing momentum as an alternative hardware and software platform for major data centers. For channel partners, OCP’s apparent rise could become as significant as the rise of Linux as a true alternative to Unix and Windows Servers.

First, a little background: OCP — first pioneered by Facebook — is now an industry effort to build open source solutions atop networking, servers and storage. In theory, traditional vendors like Cisco Systems and VMware could be disrupted if OCP truly goes mainstream. As a hedge, both Cisco and VMware (among other established vendors) have OCP memberships.

Although OCP is now an industry project, Facebook continues to generate many of the headlines. Among the most recent: Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it’s set to open its first data center built entirely with OCP technology.

Telecom Giants Join OCP

OCP is mostly a niche initiative — though some very big names from the telco industry are starting to get involved.  True believers include AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EE, SK Telecom and Verizon.

Those giants are joining a specialized OCP Telco Project designed just for them. The goal: Achieve more innovation, vendor choice, and customization in their infrastructure designs.

Andre Fuetsch

Andre Fuetsch

If that sounds like happy talk and empty vendor hype, consider AT&T’s goals. Andre Fuetsch, senior VP of architecture and design, offered this quote for today’s OCP announcement:

“AT&T will virtualize 75% of its network functions by 2020, and to do that, we need to move to a model of sophisticated software running on commodity hardware. We’re becoming a software and networking company. As a result, our central offices are going to look a lot more like data centers as we evolve our networking infrastructure. The Open Compute Project is innovating rapidly in this area, and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with the community of engineers and developers that are driving the evolution. We look forward to our vendors and other industry players supporting this initiative, as well.”

ChannelE2E provided the bold emphasis within Fuetsch’s quote because, frankly, it’s a monumental statement. And it puts every established networking company and IT data center company on notice.

OCP: What Channel Partners Should Do

Nobody is suggesting that OCP will somehow, overnight, displace established networking companies. But OCP’s momentum is definitely building, and savvy channel partners should at least track emerging products and standards in the OCP ecosystem.

Examples include OCP switches from Accton, Inventec and Mellanox, along with Facebook’s own switch — called Wedge.

At the same time, channel partners should closely track developments and milestones at the OCP U.S. Summit (March 9-10, San Jose, Calif.).

It’s a safe bet multiple milestones will surface at that conference.

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