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The Open Compute Project grew out of Facebook’s efforts to custom design and build software, servers and other data center components to deal with the ever-increasing demands placed on its infrastructure. Most data centers purchase and use a large number of inexpensive general-purpose servers. This approach can cause significant hardware sprawl, as well as substantial power and cooling requirements.
The Open Compute Project has expanded beyond its roots as a Facebook project over the last two years and now includes members like Rackspace, Goldman Sachs and Arista Networks. The OCP community has collaborated with other open source software projects to successfully help develop energy-efficient servers, a 100% air-side economizer and evaporative cooling system to support the servers, a simple screw-less server chassis, designs for server racks and battery cabinets and an integrated DC/AC power distribution scheme. In May 2013, the project expanded its scope to include operating system agnostic (OS-agnostic) switches.
Although some industry experts maintain that it is still too early to assess the success of the Open Compute Project or its adoption by the broader IT industry, the spiraling need for computing resources and the increasing cost of electricity makes the open compute initiative an interesting paradigm shift for the IT industry -- in this case, industry leaders are driving technological innovation rather than technology vendors.