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Open Compute Project moves into networking

09 May 2013

The Open Compute Project (OCP) has kicked off a new effort to build networking hardware for use in data centres.

The group said that its new project will be aimed at designing a networking switch that is operating system agnostic and open for all hardware developers and service providers to use in their products. The design phase for the project is set to begin on 16 May. When deployed, the Open Compute networking box will aim to focus as a more efficient and flexible model for building a bare-bones networking switch which would sit at the top of a server rack.

Among the early backers for the project are Facebook, Intel and VMware, as well as traditional networking powerhouses such as Netronome and Broadcom.

OCP president Frank Frankovsky said: "It's our hope that an open, disaggregated switch will enable a faster pace of innovation in the development of networking hardware, help software-defined networking continue to evolve and flourish and ultimately provide consumers of these technologies with the freedom they need to build infrastructures that are flexible, scalable and efficient across the entire stack.

"This is a new kind of undertaking for OCP — starting a project with just an idea and a clean sheet of paper, instead of building on an existing design that’s been contributed to the foundation — and we are excited to see how the project group delivers on our collective vision."

While the jump into networking is a first for OCP, the idea of building a clean and efficient design for service providers to use is not. The company's flagship effort is a blueprint for servers that eliminate unnecessary components and are specifically designed for use in large data centre deployments.

First conceived by Facebook engineers who found that their bare-bones customised designs were ideal for cloud and web service use, the Open Compute Project harnesses the engineering and design smarts of major firms to create more efficient servers for all service providers and system vendors. The social networking giant will continue leading the project. Earlier this year, Facebook provided the group with a fresh design for server motherboards.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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