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Financial Services Market Eagerly Converting Data Centers to OCP

Julia Shih 0

Wall Street Rethinking Data Center Hardware

At OCP Summit 2015 last month, Bank of America along with Capital One and JPMorgan Chase announced their intentions of adopting OCP into their own data centers. They join Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments, who currently use OCP in their own data centers, and have been deeply involved in the Open Compute Project since its inception, being instrumental in many developments within the OCP community including an OCP server spec compatible with standard 19” racks (code name “Decathlete”) and the “Open Bridge Rack” which is a hybrid rack solution that can hold both 19” servers as well as 21” Open Rack servers.

Open Compute is an open-source community of engineers and technology companiesworking to redesign servers, storage and data center hardware designs for maximum efficiency and scalability. Open Compute was born inside Facebook, when the company realized that it had to re-invent the data center to maintain its exponential growth rate. Facebook designed and built a new kind of data center from the ground up that is 38% more efficient and 24% less expensive to run than a traditional data center, and to date, Facebook claims their OCP-based infrastructure has saved them $2 billion over a three year period in capital and operational expenses.

Financial services companies were very much interested in what OCP technology had to offer, but they were seeking something less disruptive to their data centers than the Facebook OCP installations, which consisted of 21” racks with a unique rack-level power distribution model that were easy for Facebook to deploy because they were building their data centers from the ground up. They wanted something that would be compatible with traditional racks and could fit into their current data center environments immediately.

The Decathlete was born out of the efforts by financial services companies including Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments to develop an OCP solution that could address their wishlist of improvements to traditional server architecture and current supply chain models, and includ needed features for their specific operations. Number one on this wishlist was having a single, versatile platform that could support a variety of data center applications including cloud infrastructure, high performance computing for risk analysis, financial modeling and forecasting, big data analytics, database and storage applications as well as VDI support. Leveraging Open Compute (OCP) design concepts in a form factor that fits standard 19” racks, the Decathlete became the modern answer to the financial industry’s need for a more efficient data center, serving as a streamlined building block that can support multiple applications with maximum cost optimization and platform reliability, while being simple to maintain and scale. It was essentially, a data center computing solution designed by the financial industry…FOR the financial industry.

And by all industry indicators, it looks like they created a winner. Currently, this platform is being deployed by Fidelity for applications such as their private cloud that allows their developers to rapidly build and test critical new apps and features for their customers. According to Don Duet, co-head of the technology division at Goldman Sachs in his OCP keynote on March 10, 2015, he stated that by the end of 2014, 37% of the company’s new servers were from OCP designs and by the end of 2015, he expects the percentage to increase to  close to 70%.

What’s AMAX have to do with Financial Market

AMAX is currently deploying its Centurion platform into the financial market. The Centurion is based on the Decathlete spec, but with the option of being configured with NVMe flash storage, high speed networking and high performance CPUs for a risk analysis, financial forecasting and modeling platform, as well as serving as an OpenStack and Hadoop platform. Now, with BofA, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One announcing their intentions to deploy OCP into their own data center and others to soon join, the number of deployments will only increase. It will be interesting to see what more technology developments will come out of the financial industry’s involvement in the OCP community, and whether the Decathlete will become the computing standardization for the financial industry.