Roll your own "enterprise" hardware

Not long ago, I found an article talking about how Google is Intel’s fifth largest customer for server chips. I thought it was a brilliant barometer of the disruption that cloud computing is making to the traditional enterprise hardware providers, like Dell, IBM and HP.

RedMonk recently wrote an article surveying the various data points which go to this issue, including a few I’ll call out:

  • Rackspace are joining Open Compute, the new standard for servers needing cloud-scale economics
  • Quanta will one day sell directly to enterprises, say for for private cloud

The Open Compute standard drives down manufacturing costs by removing vanity and wasteful items like logos, flashy lights, DVD drives and serial ports. Manufacturers like Quanta (based in Taiwan) then build to your specification.

The standard also considers operational effectiveness, such as cooling and space saving, for example, the Open Rack width lets you fit more 3.5″ HDD side by side than the traditional rack.

It’s clever because it’s so obvious, and it’s so disruptive.

So how about the software layers?

At one layer of the software stack, we have open source hypervisors KVM and Xen which compete with VMware’s ESX.

Technically I could say there’s competition at the cloud orchestration layer with OpenStack and CloudStack, but in the context of disrupting existing markets, I think it’s more useful to consider them as platforms which allow the creation of alternative ecosystems to that of AWS. Fascinating, really.

Recently IBM and earlier VMware throwing their weight in the ring with OpenStack will help bolster the engineering depth in OpenStack, along with the hundreds of existing contributors. RightScale is also a corporate sponsor.

I don’t believe any single cloud infrastructure provider will monopolise, but that we will see a future of multiple clouds interoperating. Since there is no singular interchange standard, this is going to be an interesting process.

Thanks to RedMonk, here’s the RedMonk article.