Monthly Archives: March 2013
The personal computer is dead. As quickly as we moved from the desktop to the laptop, we are moving to the tablet — never to return. With the death of the PC, an entire ecosystem dies with it. The chipset is ARM-based, rather than Intel. The operating system is all iOS and Android, rather than Windows. The applications are hosted cloud apps like Box, Google Apps and Evernote rather than SharePoint, Office and Outlook.
It all started, Mike Yang says, with a conversation he had with Facebook’s vice president of technical operations in 2007 or 2008. Rather than source servers through a traditional vendor like IBM for its data centers, Facebook turned to Quanta. Back then, Quanta didn’t sell servers directly to customers, it only built them for traditional server vendors who then put their name on them and sold them to customers. Fast forward a few years, and a majority of Quanta’s server revenue stems from direct deals — 65 percent in 2012, and a forecasted 85 percent this year. Now, it counts other large-scale server buyers such as Rackspace among its customers.
The user-led organization, whose members include Facebook, has called for a separation and disaggregation of the core components of our computer systems. The OCP wants to see the core components of system design including processors, motherboards, and networking interconnects all disaggregated so they can be upgraded independently. The scheme is said to be in marked contrast to the current industry trend of converged systems combining servers, storage, and networking into a single system. At this stage it is hard to say whether a more widespread user and developer backlash may surface, but one has to consider it as a strong possibility.
Who are the world’s biggest server sellers? No one really knows. Venerable research firms like IDC and Gartner will tell you that the server game is dominated by familiar names like IBM, Dell, HP, Cisco, and Fujitsu, but the truth is a bit more complicated. You see, the giants of the internet — the companies that need more servers than anyone — are buying massive amounts of custom-built gear straight from manufacturers in Asia, and they prefer to keep the specifics under wraps. This includes Google and Amazon and others.
TAIPEI – The pre-show conference for Taiwan’s Computex expo took place yesterday, with organisers forecasting Taiwan’s cloud computing market – the main focus of the trade show this year – will be worth NT$15 billion (S$630 million) by 2015. Featuring some 1,700 exhibitors and 5,000 booths, this year’s Computex will showcase the latest developments in cloud computing and information communications technology (ICT), and is expected to attract more than 36,000 international buyers.
Building a data center based on Open Compute Project designs in a relatively hot and humid area like Forest City, North Carolina, presented some interesting challenges. Chief among them, of course, was whether the 100% outdoor air cooling system Facebook debuted in our Prineville, Oregon, facility could operate as efficiently in an environment where the ASHRAE 50-year maximum wet bulb temperature is 21% higher, at 84.5°F instead of 70.3°F.
Two years ago, Facebook set out to change the server and storage industries by creating freely available hardware designs that gave customers more flexibility than those on offer from the HPs and Dells of the world. Now, Facebook aims to knock Cisco and the other top network vendors down a peg by leading a nearly identical project for switches. Facebook is leading this disruption of the data center hardware industry through the Open Compute Project, which takes the open source approach typically applied to software such as Linux and aims it at hardware.
Baidu, the largest Chinese search engine, is pushing the boundary of data center design with its cloud computing data centers. By integrating new hardware technologies including ARM-based servers, custom-designed all-in-one racks, 10Gb top-of-rack (TOR) switches and self-designed Solid State Disks (SSD), Baidu is boosting the performance of its cloud computing data centers. And it says it expects such efforts will lay the foundations for the technology benchmark for China’s internet data centers (IDC) of the future.
Amid the usual give-and-take during yesterday’s analyst call, Finisar Executive Chairman of the Board Jerry Rawls was asked for his views on the potential threat silicon photonics poses to his business. Finisar’s (NASDAQ:FNSR) shares tumbled when Jefferies & Co. analyst James Kisner used the occasion of Intel’s silicon photonics update at the Open Compute Summit in January to downgrade Finisar’s stock. When it comes to silicon photonics, it would appear Mr. Rawls is not impressed. At least not yet.
It rises out of the rocky central Oregon desert like a fortress, albeit an inviting one: Facebook’s first data center complex, located on a mesa on the outskirts of Prineville, population 10,000. This is what the data center of the future looks like: massive complexes built near cheap power supplies in climatically favorable settings, designed to power huge Internet-based applications with minimal staff. With Apple building a data center complex next door to Facebook’s facility, Prineville, Ore., might one day be known as one of the few mega-data center concentrations in the world.
Remember when “Other” was just a rounding error in market share reports? Now in the server market, it just might be the main event, as Facebook’s Open Compute project, cloud computing, and other trends drive buyers to no-name server vendors instead of IBM, HP, and Dell. Time to short the incumbents?
Server sales are up after a sluggish start to 2012, but growth isn’t coming from the incumbent server vendors, say several new reports. The “other” category, which includes Quanta and other companies building custom servers for large cloud companies had the most impressive growth, suggesting a significant impact for Open Compute designs at the expense of major server makers like Dell and HP.