The future of data centres: out with ‘aggression’, in with ‘collaboration’?

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Speaking at Data Centres Ireland, John Laban from the Open Compute Project pointed out that many data centre professionals are failing to keep up with key technology trends and commented that there is a significant gap in knowledge when it comes to OCP innovation. When questioning data centre professionals on whether they knew which servers were being used by Facebook, very few were able to answer. 

“People in their twenties that don’t work in the data centre industry know what Facebook is doing in its data centres, but the majority of people in this room don’t. The industry you are in belongs to the last century. Things are changing,” commented Laban. He added that there is a perception that businesses need to be aggressive, when what they actually need is to be “collaborative”. 

“Youngsters are coming into the market and are eating you alive; they are doing it because they collaborate,” Laban commented.

A survey carried out by IHS Markit, earlier this year, found that $1.2bn (£940m) was spent on OCP installs, outside of the hyperscale space. IHS Markit also predicted that OCP adoption among non-board member companies would surpass $6bn (£4.68bn) by 2021, while OCP year-on-year growth (outside the hyperscale space) was 103%. 

“All the hyperscalers use OCP technology and they consume it at huge scale. It dominates the hyperscale space and it is moving into the telco space. Now it needs to move into the enterprise space,” said Laban. He pointed out that OCP can have a “radical impact” on the data centre. 

“An OCP data centre costs half the money to build than a traditional Tier III. It is a very cost-effective way of doing things. An OCP server, for example, uses 50% less energy than a traditional server,” continued Laban. 

He reported that AT&T, for example, is seeing a 70% reduction in capex, by using the technologies adopted by the hyperscalers, yet there is poor awareness of OCP among companies dealing with telcos. Nokia is also extensively using Open Source hardware.

“The opportunities are huge… the telcos cannot move fast enough,” said Laban.  

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