Microsoft contributes cloud server designs to the Open Compute Project

The following post is from Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft.


On Tuesday, I will deliver a keynote address to 3,000 attendees at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit in San Jose, Calif. where I will announce that Microsoft is joining the OCP, a community focused on engineering the most efficient hardware for cloud and high-scale computing via open collaboration. I will also announce that we are contributing to the OCP what we call the Microsoft cloud server specification: the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacenters delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others. We are excited to participate in the OCP community and share our cloud innovation with the industry in order to foster more efficient datacenters and the adoption of cloud computing.

The Microsoft cloud server specification essentially provides the blueprints for the datacenter servers we have designed to deliver the world’s most diverse portfolio of cloud services. These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and built to handle the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform. They offer 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. We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by 10,000 tons across our base of 1 million servers.

Microsoft is the only global cloud provider to publicly release these server specifications through OCP, and the information we are sharing is highly detailed. As part of this effort, Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. is open sourcing the software code we created for the management of hardware operations, such as server diagnostics, power supply and fan control. We would like to help build an open source software community within OCP as well.

The specifications we’re contributing to OCP reflect our long history in datacenter architecture and cloud computing. We started managing our own datacenters in 1989, and delivered our first global online service, MSN, in 1995. We have invested more than $15 billion in our cloud infrastructure and today provide more than 200 cloud services to 1 billion customers and 20 million businesses in more than 90 markets around the world. Simply put, we have learned a tremendous amount building and operating some of the world’s largest cloud services.

Our joining OCP and making this contribution builds on a long track record of sharing our cloud hardware learnings. Our Global Foundation Services organization began providing datacenter research and insights to hardware partners more than five years ago. Now, at the OCP Summit, industry partners are showing production hardware, based on our OCP specifications. We look forward to seeing commercial offerings in the near future.

This effort aligns with our Cloud OS strategy. Microsoft is unique in the industry in that we offer cloud platforms, such as Windows Azure, as well as the software infrastructure for enterprise customers and partners to build their own clouds. As a result, we can continually take technology and best practices from our public cloud offerings, and build them into our private cloud solutions. It’s a virtuous cycle that enables a consistent hybrid cloud platform – a Cloud OS – spanning Windows Azure, partner clouds and customer datacenters. That consistency gives customers more flexibility to move and manage enterprise applications across clouds, and more choice in the IT models that best fit their needs and budgets. Similarly, the Microsoft cloud server specification for OCP will help drive hardware innovation for cloud computing, which strengthens the Cloud OS vision to give customers a consistent platform for better IT efficiency and economics.

We’re already getting great feedback from OCP leadership and members about our participation and contribution. We look forward to working with the community to help push datacenter innovation forward. You can find more information about the Microsoft cloud server specification at www.opencompute.org.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated with new information on Jan. 28.