Open Hardware Movement: Changing Face of the Market

By CIOReview | Thursday, July 2, 2015
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FREMONT, CA: Over the past couple of years, the IT Enterprises and multinational financial services companies have constantly been in flux with the ever increasing technological innovations. Enterprises have now started preferring to be the member of Open Compute Project (OPC)—the industry consortium to push the idea of open-source hardware in the data centre.  

The open-source hardware movement is slowly migrating from the garage to the marketplace. Companies are making available their physical designs and software code to the market and are engaging a wave of makers, hobbyists and designers in the development.

Jeff Burt has analyzed the movement and wrote in an article in eweek that Goldman Sachs, an American multinational investment banking firm primarily with institutional clients, is the latest to join the league of open hardware movement. However, the firm has been a longtime member of the OPC, the industry association started by Facebook.

Facebook galvanized this movement in 2011, when it open sourced its first server designs and founded the OPC  with the aim to foster a vast community of companies that would freely trade their hardware designs and bootstrap a more efficient means of getting the designs built.

They have all good reasons to get involved with the open hardware movement thanks to their massive, global IT footprint, with more than 118,000 systems holding more than 500,000 compute cores and running more than 4,000 applications, all housed in 68 data centers worldwide.

“To reduce capital and operational expenses in their IT infrastructure while continuing to drive performance, agility and scalability, we have joined the club. To do our part, we helped work on such areas in the OCP as hardware and firmware,” say Goldman’s officials.

Goldman Sachs officials are determined to transform 70 percent of the servers into OCP systems and eventually, 80 percent of the firm’s servers throughout its data centers will be open-source systems.

Like massive web outfits, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google; financial firms, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments and Capital One are also taking advantage of the trend looking to garner the same benefits that these Web-scale organizations see.

Inspite of all these hype, there are things that server designs from the likes of Dell and Hewlett-Packard can’t always address. Some, like Facebook and Google, have taken off-the-shelf components and leveraged in-house engineering skills to develop their own hardware that can address their particular needs. While some have partnered with server vendor, such as Microsoft and Dell have entered a partnership to deliver hardware integrated with Microsoft Cloud Platform System.

In the four years since the initiation of the venture, OCP has grown to include a broad array of top-tier tech vendors, such as Intel, Dell, HP, Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Apple. It has brought together 200 companies in all, including large enterprise customers, such as the top financial services firms and promises much more bright future.