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VMblog Expert Interview: Ahead of OCP Global Summit, Inspur Explores Open Compute Project, Challenges, Adoption and Futures

interview inspur chang 

Inspur will be attending and speaking at the OCP Global Summit.  Ahead of the show, VMblog spoke with Alan Chang, VP of Technical Operations at Inspur, a provider of data center infrastructure, cloud computing and AI solutions.  Learn more as we dive into the Open Compute Project.

VMblog:  The 2021 OCP Global Summit is this week.  What are some of the key themes at this year's conference?

Alan Chang:  The "Open Possibilities" theme of the 2021 OCP Global Summit is very relevant and emblematic of what is happening in the OCP sector right now. By empowering small and medium-sized enterprises through hyperscale-type technologies, originally designed only for the largest data centers, and providing a path to open compute infrastructure, OCP is looking to the future where all levels of enterprises are included and can benefit.

VMblog:  Is Inspur Information speaking at the event?  Will you discuss your server technology and showcase it at the conference?

Chang:  I will be speaking at the summit and plan to discuss the enterprise-level adoption of high-performance computing. With energy consumption skyrocketing, I want to share how the latest innovations in computing power can help reduce a company's carbon footprint during my presentation on Tuesday, November 9th at 1:50 pm PT.

And yes, Inspur Information will be showcasing its NF5180M6 and NF5280M6 General Purpose Enterprise Servers, which meet the needs of businesses in all industries for open standards at-scale servers in an enterprise-level 1U/2U box. These flexible, high-performance, and energy-efficient servers are being deployed for virtualization, driving large business applications, and running transactional databases. 

And finally, Inspur Information is launching with Samsung the Poseidon V2 E3.x reference system in a 1U server using E3.x) for an efficient high-density, high-performance storage system.  We'll be showcasing them all at booth B23, next to Facebook. Come and say hi.

VMblog:  We understand that OCP's open rack management infrastructure enables various implementations.  Does this mean the democratization of the technology?  Providing the ability to configure the compute, storage, and networking to meet the needs of businesses of varied sizes?

Chang:  Yes, we think it does. OCP is at an inflection point. Right now, everyone is adopting some form of OCP.  We're in the midst of realizing that we need a standardized approach that delivers OCP solutions from a spectrum of vendors. OCP is no longer just about the server hardware. Today, there are groups tackling firmware, concentrating on the advanced cooling from system to rack level, and discussing the chipset design for AI. The coverage for the OCP is also adapting to our real-world data center evaluation. One of the major standards that Inspur is trying to promote in the coming year will be "optimization for the standard 19" enterprise server at the rack level. 

As for Inspur Information, we want to create a lower entry barrier for smaller size data center operators to be able to understand some of the key OCP components and benefits. This way, they can slowly progress into the next infrastructure changes for integrated rack design such as Open Rack or Project Olympus.

VMblog:  The key objectives of the OCP are evolving.  What are some of the main drivers of OCP adoption?

Chang:  Data center IT equipment buyers recently participated in a survey conducted by OMDIA, and capex and opex reduction topped the list as the leading reasons for OCP adoption. These buyers also saw value in having access to the innovation that companies are contributing via the open designs and added that deploying open compute systems would, at this juncture, set them apart from the competition. 

Finally, high-performance compute was cited across several enterprise verticals as an important driver of adoption. These verticals, including gaming companies and the energy sector, will benefit from hybrid workloads residing both in the cloud and on-premises, and having a physical architecture that can support large-scale cloud deployments is imperative. 

VMblog:  Let's discuss the positive impact OCP would have on the environment.

Chang:  Energy conservation was on the top of the list of priorities when the Open Compute Project was founded. The initial conservation's focus was on servers, storage, and network devices, and then progressed to more advanced methods of power delivery/distribution and solutions to cool these devices. Liquid cooling and immersion cooling specs and recommendations were formed for the implementation of liquid and immersion cooling in IT equipment as well as data center infrastructure. 

Additional sustainability design principles are also important to the OCP, such as minimizing the use of non-recyclable components and the viability of heating a building with server waste heat. 

This year, the OCP is introducing a dedicated sustainability track at the Global Summit. The impetus is that the OCP "needs a common platform of collaboration that aligns with a low carbon economy, society, and planet." The OCP believes adding sustainability to open technology platforms across hardware, software, and data will create a playbook to follow enabling sustainability to be at the heart of all of the technology that is part of the OCP. 

VMblog:  What are some of the challenges of OCP now?

Chang:  Many of the projects you can find in the Open Compute Project are optimized solutions at the L-11 rack level. That creates an entry barrier for some of the enterprise customers who did not purchase IT infrastructure by rack as a unit. We need to consider how we can push adoption forward beyond just the rack level.  On a higher level, we need to look at procurement practices and mission-critical applications: how do they receive validation in the cloud environment? These are some of the challenges we are tackling now.

VMblog:  What does the future look like?  What's needed for the long-term success of the open computing ecosystem?

Chang:  We look forward to providing continuous innovation in edge computing, storage, networking, and AI. The next generation of products that the market is interested in includes 5G, edge and AI. Inspur has been working with hardware and optimizing solutions for over 30 years, and the ultimate goal is to have the OCP community come together. Not everyone's product is highly differentiated from the next. But as a community, when we all come together as a joint design, we can support wider adoption. And that's the ultimate goal and what is needed for the long-term success of the open compute project. The solution is not in creating a unique product that you can only buy and consume by yourself.  The goal is to have the entire community involved. That is why at Inspur Information we initiated the general-purpose enterprise project with several OEMs, enabling us to easily standardize the specs to ensure wider adoption supporting a reliable product for the future.


Published Tuesday, November 09, 2021 8:01 AM by David Marshall
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