Open Compute Venture — Advancing {Hardware} Applied sciences By way of Open Supply

While the concept of leveraging open source communities to build robust and efficient projects in software is widespread, the application of open source principles and practices to hardware on a large scale was almost unknown. In April 2011, Facebook launched the Open Compute Project (OCP) with the help of other computer leaders with the aim of sharing, promoting, and promoting innovations in the data center hardware community in an open and efficient manner. With the introduction of OCP, the world’s first large-scale open source hardware project was launched.

In this blog post we explain the Open Compute Project in an easy to understand way (or as it is commonly known on the internet, ELI5 Facebook Open Source Youtube Channel.

Why Open Computing?

The Open Compute Project, or OCP, is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on sharing designs and best practices for data center products.

Let’s take a look at how it all started. In 2009, Facebook grew exponentially, serving millions of users worldwide. In order to continue serving the growing number of people on its platform, the company had to rethink several facets of its data centers in order to control costs and energy consumption. Facebook started an in-house project called Project Freedom that focused on redesigning an efficient data center from the ground up and rethinking software, servers, racks, power supplies, and cooling.

In 2011, Facebook publicly shared these designs with the world. In addition, it has partnered with Goldman Sachs, Andy Bechtolsheim, Intel and Rackspace to create the Open Compute Project, whose mission is to apply the benefits of open source and open collaboration to hardware and to rapidly accelerate the pace of innovation in data centers.

How is the Open Compute Project maintained?

The OCP Foundation maintains a number of projects including data center cooling, rack designs, server designs, and storage. A full list of OCP projects can be found on their website.

Since OCP is open source, it welcomes contributions from the community. To ensure a high level of consistency and excellence, all contributions and project decisions are measured against four basic principles – openness, efficiency, scope and impact. For a full explanation of the principles, see this stack of slides here.

When presenting to the technical committee, each contribution must show how it adheres to these principles. OCP will not accept a specification or contribution unless there is a feasible route to market (e.g. a supplier is activated within 120 days). Adhering to these principles allows OCP to continue developing products that influence and advance the market, rather than just turning into a library of paper specifications.

How is the Open Compute Project used today?

The original data center that Facebook built when it released its data center designs as open source is still in Prineville, Oregon. Ten years after its inception, OCP has been enthusiastically accepted by the industry; now there are over 140 intellectual property (IP) posts from 22 different companies representing more than 170 products in areas such as servers, storage, networks, connections and more.

Outside of Facebook, the list of OCP members includes over 200 companies. OCP is used by a number of telecommunications companies, cloud service providers (CSPs), large web-based companies (e.g. SaaS), the public sector and in high performance computing.

Additional resources to learn more

If you’re interested in making a contribution, read the How to Contribute guide, which explains the steps to get your idea across to the appropriate project group, write a specification (OCP Specification Template), and get your product on the OCP marketplace.

To learn more about OCP, visit their website, follow them on Twitter @OpenComputePrj and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

About the ELI5 series

In a series of short videos, one of our developer advocates in the Facebook Open Source Team explains a Facebook Open Source project in an easy-to-understand and user-friendly way.

For each of these videos we will write an accompanying blog post (like the one you are reading now), which you can find on our YouTube channel.

To learn more about Facebook Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Interested in working with open source on Facebook? Check out our open source related job postings on our careers page by taking this short survey.

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