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Microsoft going open source with its cloud server specifications

Microsoft is joining the Open Compute Project, and sharing the plans and code behind the datacenter servers which power its massive cloud services.


It is surprising for a company like Microsoft to go open either with their code or hardware, but that’s exactly what Microsoft is doing. In a post on The Official Microsoft Blog, Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud & Enterprise wrote on Monday that he would be delivering a keynote at the Open Compute Project (OCP) the following day.

In this keynote, Laing will announce that Microsoft is joining the OCP, and contributing its entire Microsoft cloud server specifications, which are “the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacenters delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others.”

Microsoft will essentially provide the blueprints for its datacenters, in the form of design collateral such as CAD and Gerber files, and system management source code for Microsoft’s cloud server designs, which it will also upload to GitHub.

The company appears confident that this move is in their best interests.

“We came to the conclusion that by sharing these hardware innovations, it will help us accelerate the growth of cloud computing,” said Kushagra Vaid, General Manager of Cloud Server Engineering for Microsoft. “This will directly factor into products for enterprise and private clouds. It’s a virtuous cycle in which we create a consistent experience across all three clouds.”

The OCP was founded by Facebook in 2011 in order to create an “open hardware” movement, with the aim of developing data centers and servers in a following the model associated with open source software. Microsoft will be joining Facebook as the only other company to release its server specifications.

Between the two, Microsoft probably has the more diverse servers. While Facebook’s servers are designed to support the social network, Microsoft’s can support more than 200 online services, said Vaid.

A graphic from Microsoft’s blog, illustrating the scope of their cloud services

Of its own designs, Microsoft cites “dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times. ”

Since building servers isn’t something the average hacker or enthusiast is out to do – or very likely able to afford – Microsoft is not making a tremendous contribution to the lay open source community. However, on a corporate level, its contribution is significant, and the code and solutions which they provide will give an excellent perspective on how the world renowned tech company handles its cloud products, to the hackers and businesses alike.

 Source: Data Center Knowledge

Brandon Shutt
Brandon is an A+ certified technician and freelance writer living in East Tennessee. He loves God, writing, science (especially technology) and philosophy. He is currently preparing to enter the field of information security.

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