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Explaining the Benefits of an Open Compute Server to Your Client

August 10, 2017

That being said, the need for cost-effective, scalable next-generation data center solutions is an ever-present part of the discussion in the age of big data. It’s up to value-added resellers (VARs) to explain the benefits of an Open Compute server and why it directly intersects with the current and future needs of their clients. Here are a few of the defining benefits that VARs should be prepared to explain to them.

As an outgrowth of the OCP begun in 2011, Open Compute servers are just one of the innovations that are currently redesigning the modern data center for maximum efficiency and scalability. With Open Compute, hardware design and manageability are open-sourced, with the aim of reducing power consumption, cost, and size of data center hardware by building custom hardware that includes the best—and only the necessary—components for specific applications.

The goal of Open Compute server technology is to be able to architect completely optimized server technologies that deploy faster, are less expensive, and have just the right features needed for scale and efficiency. The server design is primarily geared around space and power savings. Some of the main benefits of Open Compute servers are:

  • The fact that many of the servers can be run at temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, which is way higher than the industry norm, resulting in lower cooling costs.
  • Protection from vendor lock-in, as many manufacturers build the same interchangeable systems from the same blueprints, thus providing a good negotiation platform.
  • “OCP-inspired” servers have emerged that fit into a standard 19-inch space, which enables data centers to integrate them into existing racks for a smooth and gradual transition.
  • Most OCP original design manufacturers (ODMs) offer a three-year return to base with an up-front parts warranty as standard. This can often be better than what is offered today by other vendors of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware.
  • Many vendors enable the creation of bespoke support and service-level agreements.

Open Compute Server: Not Just for Hyperscale Users Anymore

While originally developed and seen as a solution just for hyperscalers, the Open Compute server is now a viable option for SMBs and enterprises. One major example of this opening-up of the landscape is the fact that the Open Compute Hardware Management specification means that SMBs can use the same management software on multiple vendors' hardware.

In essence, Open Compute–based servers are no different from servers designed and manufactured by the major OEMs. The components and processors are usually from the same ODMs, which are the companies that supply the OEMs in the first place. SMBs can leverage this "open market" to decrease data center capital expenditures and operating expenditures while enjoying best-of-breed hardware from the industry's leading manufacturers.

With price a clear priority for SMBs, Open Compute servers make a strong case, as evidenced by a price/performance test run by AMD that showed an Open Compute–spec’d server could be obtained at roughly half the cost of a standard OEM server from one of the major players. Reasons cited for the price difference were the added costs of marketing and the fact that certain components like storage input/output controllers aren’t always needed in some workloads.

One of the biggest potential benefits for SMBs and enterprises (besides the lower cost of equipment) is the absence of licensing costs pertaining to hardware/firmware features on a typical Open Compute motherboard. These are implemented in the form of license keys with expiration dates, etc., which are not part of most OCP member solution offerings.

It’s true that SMBs aren’t likely to have the IT expertise to architect and design these servers, and enterprises may not have the personnel who have the time. This means that it becomes a perfect opportunity for VARs to partner with them to get the job done correctly and efficiently. With more than 200 members and an even longer list of contributors and compatible technology manufacturers, the OCP includes many System ArchiTECHS manufacturer partners.

This represents just a fraction of the growing community and future integration and innovation opportunities that benefit VAR clients. As a consequence, VARs are in a position to assure clients that they have the reach and relationships to make Open Compute servers a savings- and growth-oriented solution.

For VARs, helping clients respond to the innovations in data centers with emerging solutions is the key to stronger relationships with increased ROI for both the client and the VAR. As an example, the new white box and OCP family of servers enables a level of customization capability to design and deliver everything from stock offerings to custom systems and even component-level designs. By providing design, architecting, system integration, and data center support, VARs can create economies of scale to drive their own total cost of ownership lower and ROI higher as well as that of their clients.