SAN JOSE, California — LinkedIn deployed Open19 technology in its data center and today open sourced the project, contributing it to the Open19 Foundation.
“We are ready for prime time,” said Yuval Bachar, president of the Open19 Foundation and principal architect at LinkedIn, kicking off the open source data center group’s first summit. And by prime time, he means deployments in traditional and edge data centers.
While the Open19 Project started as a way for LinkedIn to optimize its data centers, its founders quickly realized that the platform was well suited for edge deployments. “We built it for any location,” Bachar said. “As long as you have a 19-inch rack, you’re good. You can install this technology if you’re drilling on a rig in the South Sea, or a container on the edge, or a server in a data center. We are establishing de-facto standards for data centers and edge.”
The Open19 Project is a disaggregated platform designed to fit any 19-inch rack environment for servers, storage, and networking. It does not define the servers — these are built by the server suppliers that support the Open19 server portfolio.
The Open19 Foundation grew out of the open data center concept that LinkedIn started in 2016. In addition to LinkedIn, founding members include GE Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Flex, and Vapor IO. The foundation launched in May 2017.
Today at its inaugural summit the open source group also launched the Open19 Marketplace, which displays products developed by member companies deploying Open19 technology. It currently showcases production-ready hardware including brick cages, network switches, and server bricks by Flex; switches and brick cages by Celestica; Amphenol cables; APC by Schneider Electric power supply units; Delta power shelfs; and Inspur storage.
After deploying the standardized hardware in its data centers, LinkedIn realized the benefits it had hoped to see, namely lower costs — the company saved 40 percent on capex and gained four times the space density — and easier deployment.
“We’re running 9x faster on deployment, which is enormous for us from a resource perspective,” Barchar said. The platform took significantly less time to set up than a traditional data center rack, he added, showing a video clip of two technicians installing the first Open19 rack in a LinkedIn data center. “They have not been trained,” Bachar explained. “We did not give them any specs. We gave them the hardware and said install it.”
The technicians built the first rack in about 90 minutes. Now a crew of two can complete it in 60 minutes or less, Bachar said, adding that the crew is usually at least four technicians, which makes it even faster. “From our perspective it’s a game changer in the way we operate data centers, the way we actually build them, and the way we prepare for it,” he said.
And because it’s a disaggregated platform, companies can use servers of their choice, or even use a different server in each slot. “The server in slot one is completely unaware of the server in slot two,” Bachar said.
The deployment also shrunk LinkedIn’s carbon footprint, he added: “One of the things we are most proud of, we are cutting out power footprint and our carbon footprint by 50 percent using this.”
Edge Deployments, Software Stack
Flex is a founding member of the Open19 Foundation and sells hardware that’s compliant with the open source standard. The vendor is also working with the Linux Foundation’s Akraino open source software project on reference architecture using Open19 hardware and Akraino Edge Stack.
“There’s a software ecosystem being built specifically for the edge that we believe will drive the next generation of technologies,” said Chris Winslow, senior vice president and general manager for cloud and data center at Flex. “And there are partners like us and others that are committed to the long-term success and viability of this.”
Winslow said 5G is driving the need for edge deployments, and Open19 infrastructure is ideal for this because it’s standardized, scalable, and flexible. While cloud-scale data centers have become increasingly customized over the past decade, edge requires standardized infrastructure that can quickly and easily be deployed — and moved — as needed.
“At the edge we have to think much more about the operational aspects of managing potentially tens of thousands of data centers that will be limited in size, power, backup capabilities,” Winslow explained. “They will have to be retrofitted inside of existing facilities. They are going to be multiple tenants.”
Plus, these edge data centers must be located close to the end user to meet the needs of low-latency, high-bandwidth applications. “We’re going to see an explosion of data centers at the edge,” Winslow said, adding that we don’t know exactly where the edge is, or what these data center will look like: “Standalone chambers that will sit in various locations? Drivable data centers? Or an entirely new paradigm for the future?”
Because the Open19 platform is standardized it can be more easily dropped into any of these types of locations, Winslow said. “It’s flexible. It can go into any 19-inch rack environment. It’s highly scalable. We can do single racks and massive core deployments. It’s highly module. You can have multiple SKUs of servers with multiple SKUs of storage in a common cage,” he added.
Photo: Yuval Bachar, president of the Open19 Foundation and principal architect at LinkedIn, takes the stage at the Open19 Foundation Summit