What is the Open Compute Project?

The Open Compute Project began in 2011 when Facebook published the designs of some homebrew servers it had built to make its data centers run more efficiently.

Facebook hoped that other companies would adopt and adapt its initial designs, pushing down costs and improving quality – and they have: Sales of hardware built to Open Compute Project designs topped $1.2 billion in 2017, double the previous year, and are expected to reach $6 billion by 2021.

Those figures, from IHS Markit, exclude hardware spending by OCP board members Facebook, Intel, Rackspace, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs, which all use OCP to some degree. The spend is still a small part of the overall market for data-center systems, which Gartner estimated was worth $178 billion in 2017, but IHS expects OCP’s part to grow 59 percent annually, while Gartner forecasts that the overall market will stagnate, at least through 2019.

Reasons to adopt OCP

When Facebook designed the hardware for its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Ore., it wanted to make savings on three fronts: energy, materials and money.