Earlier this week, Google, IBM, Mellanox, NVIDIA and Tyan announced plansto form the OpenPOWER Consortium – "an open development alliance based on IBM's POWER microprocessor architecture." According to the release , the Consortium will collaborate on both hardware and software to build out new hyperscale and cloud data centers.
The release is light on details, which makes sense given they are announcing their intent to form a consortium, but I did find the news interesting on a number of fronts:
* Who is involved. This isn't just IBM which you would expect with Power, but also Google, one of the largest data center customers and innovators in the world. When you see Google joining together in an initiative like this you have to take notice. NVIDIA, Mellanox and Tyan also have the expertise, technology and connections to really make this into something to pay attention to.
* Of course we always preach how collaborative development is taking over the world but here is another example, and most interestingly it covers both software AND hardware with the intent as stated for IBM to open up Power for the first time. As the release states: "The move makes POWER hardware and software available to open development for the first time as well as making POWER IP licensable to others, greatly expanding the ecosystem of innovators on the platform.
The consortium will offer open-source POWER firmware, the software that controls basic chip functions. By doing this, IBM and the consortium can offer unprecedented customization in creating new styles of server hardware for a variety of computing workloads." We unsurprisingly believe that open works and open access results in faster innovation and technological gain that can be shared by all. This is a major step by IBM and one we believe could help the Power platform gain traction in new areas.
* This is good for Linux (and customers too). More architectures optimizing their products on Linux means the entire platform benefits. And as we have seen what is innovative for the data center often times ends up being innovative and useful for mobile or other areas of computing. This virtual circle is why Linux has expanded in use so much in the past few five years. IBM has historically known how to work *within* open communities like Linux so we look forward to seeing the result of this within the Linux community.
Linux has long led the way for open source IT. Now that blueprint for successful collaboration is taking root in many previously untouched corners of the tech industry such as virtualization with KVM and Xen, high-availability computing with OpenMAMA, and most recently software-defined networking with the OpenDaylight Project.
While much detail on OpenPOWER remains to be seen, I look forward to seeing the fruits of this collaborative development initiative.