Aiming to make open hardware more appealing to smaller companies, Facebook on Tuesday announced that it’s opening up lab space in its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters where vendors can test their software on open hardware.
“We welcome all software providers — creators of both off-the-shelf and open source software — to our lab to validate their solutions,” Facebook’s Michael Liberte wrote in a blog post. “There’s an industry need for commercial software to work on open hardware, and the lab is available to ensure the software is compatible with the latest OCP solutions. Over time, we’re hoping to expand the lab to include hardware solutions from other OCP members as well.”
There’s no doubt the Open Compute Project, which Facebook helped launch five years ago, has had a notable influence on the conversation surrounding hardware, vendors, and customers. HP, for instance, launched a white-box option last year, while Cisco’s restructuring is another acknowledgement of the shift to more open hardware and open software.
Even so, as Liberte acknowledged, shifting to an open hardware strategy can be challenging for some companies, and some potential adopters are skeptical commercial software solutions will work with customized open hardware.
“The community needs a systematic way to know whether the hardware and software they planned to use would be compatible — since they likely weren’t developed in tandem or by the same company for a similar workload,” he wrote.
Already, Canonical and Red Hat have validated their software on three of Facebook’s open hardware components — dual-socket Leopard servers, Honey Badger storage enclosures, and Knox JBODs. “Nearly every software package worked out of the box on all three components,” Liberte wrote.