On most days, I talk with people who are focused on the latest in open networking in the data center. But this week I’m seeing that data center openness means different things if you design servers.


That’s because I’m at Open Compute Summit with the Intel® SeaCliff Trail 10G/40G top-of-rack switch reference design – tucked in to a small corner of an large Intel booth filled with boards and server designs, including microservers.  It feels like I’m one of the few networking folks in a sea of server experts. 


The annual event is a Facebook-initiated effort to establish open hardware standards for data center servers. Some key initiatives include new open standards for virtual IO, storage, hardware management, data center racks and power supplies.  There’s also an OCP standard for an Intel motherboard.  Server virtualization has increased the efficiency of data center servers, and the Open Compute projects are designed to extend that efficiency to every element of the hardware design.


I think the Seacliff Trail will be a great fit at this show.  Servers and switches are the two essential elements in the data center, so it makes sense for them to be together at OCP Summit.  And Seacliff Trail is a very open switch design – most notably with support for software-defined networking.