Open19: A New Step for Data Centers

While most network engineers do not spend a lot of time thinking about environmentals, like power and cooling, physical space problems are actually one of the major hurdles to building truly large scale data centers. Consider this: a typical 1ru rack mount router weighs in at around 30 pounds, including the power supplies. Centralizing rack power, and removing the sheet metal, can probably reduce this by about 25% (if not more). By extension, centralizing power and removing the sheet metal from an entire data center’s worth of equipment could reduce the weight on the floor by about 10-15%—or rather, allow about 10-15% more equipment to be stacked into the same physical space. Cooling, cabling, and other considerations are similar—even paying for the sheet metal around each box to be formed and shipped adds costs.

What about blade mount systems? Most of these are designed for rather specialized environments, or they are designed for a single vendor’s blades. In the routing space, most of these solutions are actually chassis based systems, which are fraught with problems in large scale data center buildouts. The solution? Some form of open, foundation based standard that can be used by all vendors to build equipment sans the sheet metal with a common power and cooling specification.

The Open19 Foundation is just such an effort—an organization dedicated to building and maintaining a set of specifications for mis scale (100,000 physical server) data center buildouts.

Open19 is the hardware side of the disaggregation world; moving to a standardized rack allows users to mix and match compute, storage, and route/switch in a single “chassis,” using a range of vendors, without worrying about power and cooling differentials. Even for smaller buildouts who are interested in moving away from a vendor drive architecture, a standardized chassis format can make a lot of sense.

This is one worth watching.