We have heard for a dozen years about the Open Computing Project (OCP) and their non-traditional approach to computing hardware, from the racks to the servers, storage and networking. And over the last few years to the Open19 Foundation started to promote their alternative platform which resembles the more traditional 19-inch rack approach we have all known since the 1980’s. (Note: the official Open19 formal specification was only publicly released this past year). But neither of these approaches has resulted in earth-shattering, data center changing deployments outside of the web-scalers and a handful of early adopter pilots and test-beds. And many argue that companies like Facebook that are heavily invested in the OCP platform, have essentially created a hardware design that works for THEM (mostly) and that very few other companies could realize the stated savings that Facebook enjoys with this ‘non-standard’ approach due to many factors, including hardware, software, staffing, support, training and compatibility concerns.

But time continues to move forward and some of those core values we have grown up on in the data center are changing too. Think of storage and networking approaches now versus 10 years ago. Think of what VMware looked like back then versus today. Vastly different. Think of the skills needed back then versus now. So perhaps there is room for a new platform. As the staffing for IT gets new blood, perhaps they can cut their teeth on a new platform?

As such the Open19 Foundation has designated 2019 the Year of Accelerated Adoption for the ‘new platform’, its Open19 specification, which defines four server profiles, based on a standard 19-inch rack. Open19 expects the specification to be the basis of flexible and economic data center and edge solutions for facilities of many sizes and densities.

At the organization’s May 2019 summit, Yuval Bachar, president of the Open19 Foundation and principal engineer of data center architecture at LinkedIn, told Data Center Knowledge that Open19 gear has been deployed at scale in the social network’s facilities in Oregon and Texas. In addition, two mega data centers are running proofs of concept and six other companies are deploying or evaluating Open19 technology.

These early deployments support recent Uptime Institute Intelligence findings: Just 3% of respondents to our Ninth Annual Uptime Institute Data Center Survey (available to Uptime Institute Network members) said they were deploying Open19 hardware or designs, with another eight percent evaluating Open19. That’s a total of about 50 respondents deploying or evaluating Open19. However, 54% of respondents said that they were not aware of Open19.

Despite these survey results, we agree with the Foundation: conditions may be right for an increase in Open19 adoption.

Viewed from one perspective, these adoption (or planned adoption) figures are really quite impressive: until its public release on March 12, 2019, the Open19 project specification was available only to the current Foundation members (including founding members Flex, GE Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Packet, LinkedIn and Vapor IO). The public release of the Open19 standard greatly increases the potential for new product options and deployments.

We found an additional point of interest in our survey data: senior executives (56%) and designers (47%) are more aware of Open19 than IT management (41%) and critical facilities management (41%). Senior executives (16%) and design engineers (17%) are also far more likely to say that they are deploying or considering Open19 designs or hardware than IT management (6%) and critical facilities management (9%). One possibility: Open19 designs and hardware are making their way into production without serious disruption to the routines of IT management and critical facilities management. That would be a promising development for Open19.

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