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Rackspace follows Facebook, plans to build own servers

Open standards boost as data centre giant prepares for future

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Rackspace used the Open Compute Foundation summit last week, to annouce it is following founding OCF member Facebook and will build its own compute and storage servers based on the open standards the foundation has lobbied for.

Rackspace plans to roll out the new OCF-based servers in its newest east coast data centre, which it hopes to open in the first half of this year, says company COO Mark Roenigk.

At the OCF event, Facebook announced a new model that allows companies to build their own customized hardware using commodity hardware pieces that all comply to OCF standards. This building system allows organizations to buy less expensive commodity equipment compared to proprietary hardware from companies the likes of Dell, HP and Cisco. Roenigk says ultimately that will create efficiencies for Rackspace, including having hardware that is customized specifically to the company's needs.

Facebook founded the OCF and other members include Google, Goldman Sachs, eBay and Intel. EMC announced at the foundation's conference this week in Santa Clara that it has joined the OCF.

Rackspace released the details of the servers it hopes to assemble, which include three separate types and a rack for holding them. The Wiwynn server design, code named Winterfell, will include a 3-sled chassis with 2x16 core CPUs, 256 GiB RAM and 2x10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Roenigk says being a part of OCF reinforces Rackspace's philosophy of being an open standards, open platform company. Rackspace last summer announced that its newest cloud data centres would be powered completely be OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform. Having competitors on the same hardware platform is good for the entire industry, Roenigk argues: It lowers costs and allows companies to differentiate on services and support. "We want to out serve our competitors on product and service, not out-geek them on hardware and technology," he says.

While the OCF has thus far focused its efforts on compute and storage hardware, Roenigk says there have been discussions around extending the scope of OCF to include networking components.


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