In 2014 Microsoft joined the Open Compute Project (OCP). Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM, Rackspace and many other cloud vendors are also members. Since joining the OCP, Microsoft has contributed server, networking and data center designs. Today Microsoft open sourced its next-gen hyperscale cloud hardware design; becoming its most recent contribution to the OCP.
Traditionally hardware contributions are finalized. With Project Olympus; however, Microsoft is taking a different approach to open source hardware. The Project Olympus designs are not production-ready. Microsoft wants the community to collaborate in the design process.
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount from our deep collaboration with the OCP Foundation and the open source community over the past few years,” Azure Hardware Infrastructure GM Kushagra Vaid states in today’s announcement. “An important realization is that open source hardware development is currently not as agile and iterative as open source software.” By giving the community early access to the designs, Microsoft hopes it can “decrease the time to market for new product offerings and lower investment costs.”
The Project Olympus designs include a server chassis with a high-density storage expansion, a new motherboard and high-availability power supply with included batteries, and a new power distribution unit for the server racks that hold these (or other) machines. The designs are meant to be modular to give users the ability to put them inside their existing data center configurations.
“Microsoft is opening the door to a new era of open source hardware development. Project Olympus, the re-imagined collaboration model and the way they’re bringing it to market, is unprecedented in the history of OCP and open source datacenter hardware,” said Bill Carter, the Chief Technology Officer of the Open Compute Project Foundation, in a statement today.
Microsoft and other OCP members are making use of OCP hardware in their own data centers.
Microsoft stated that over 90 percent of the servers it buys are based on OCP-contributed specifications.
At Facebook almost all the servers are Open Compute machines. Facebook developed this project. Google also joined the OCP. Market leader Amazon remains a no-show.