At OCP TECH WEEK Bill Carter, chief technology officer, The Open Compute Project Foundation (OCP) outlined the organisations key strategies for the coming year. He highlighted the circular economy, energy efficient cooling, hardware awareness and security as four key themes for the foundation’s activities.
“The OCP Community has focused on several strategic initiatives this year that spanned across many of the Projects,” he said. “As we know, the cloud computing world never slows, nor do the technologies and opportunities that power the cloud. To assure the Foundation and its projects stay aligned, the Foundation worked with Cliff Grossner, Ph.D. and the Cloud and Data Center Research Practice at OMDIA, a leading global research and analyst firm, to review the 2020 strategic initiatives and help us identify and prioritize a set of new initiatives for 2021.
“At the same time, current challenges and opportunities were gathered from all the volunteer leaders that support the dozens of ongoing Projects. The team has chosen several technologies, opportunities and challenges that our open source Community can act on in 2021.”
Looking to the circular economy
According to Carter the linear model of take-make-dispose has reached its physical limits. “Global yearly demand for resources exceeds what earth can support in one year,” he explained. “Key elements of sustainability and the circular economy are implemented through different design practices, sustainable embedded software, design for refurbishment and remanufacturing, and secure redistribution. In 2021, sustainability will be the north star for all OCP projects.”
He pointed to the Advanced Cooling Facilities – Incubation project as one example. “It will be an effort to accelerate adoption of liquid and immersion technology, which inherently is more energy efficient,” he added.
Another key initiative is to make the route to purchasing OCP hardware more transparent. “Continually improving awareness and making it easy for mainstream IT decision makers and buyers to purchase vanity free and efficient OCP hardware is going to be critical to driving adoption,” Carter explained. “The OCP Community has developed lots of innovative technologies and can significantly drive adoption with software integration and go-to-market partnerships with the vendor community and Systems Integrators.”
Securing the data
Security has been a growing concern for data centres for several years now. With the evolution of cloud, and with more and more customer data moving to the cloud, the data center has become a major target for hackers, and the level of sophistication demonstrated by the various malicious actors has grown significantly. One of the stealthier ways for attackers to get into a system is to compromise it using rogue firmware. Such attacks are extremely hard to detect, prevent and recover from. Firmware viruses are now seen in the wild, as evident by the discovery of LoJax and the more recent MosaicRegressor BIOS rootkits. OCP recognised the critical need to leverage the power of hardware to secure the foundations of server platforms and established the OCP Security workgroup in January 2018.
“Security continues to be needed in a pervasive fashion built into hardware at the component and device level,” Carter concluded. “The Security Project is about to release several white papers outlining security threats and how to address those threats with root of trust, attestation and firmware update protocols for IT equipment. In 2021, we wish to extend this focus to the facility. Many of the same threats affecting IT equipment also affect the control systems that run the data center facilities.”