AT&T switching facility (Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)

Equinix, AT&T, Verizon Join Facebook’s Open Source Data Center Project

As their networks become increasingly virtualized, telecommunications company offices will function and look more like data centers, and the companies are looking for the most effective and low-cost modern ways to build this new infrastructure.

For help, some of the world’s largest telcos have turned to the Open Compute Project, the Facebook-led open source data center and hardware design initiative. AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, EE, and SK Telecom are all joining OCP, the organization announced today. Also joining are the Finnish communications tech firm Nokia, data center and interconnection giant Equinix, and Nexius, a provider of network technology and solutions to network operators and enterprises.

Read more: Why Should Data Center Operators Care about Open Source?

Facebook claims to have saved billions by designing its own custom IT hardware and data center infrastructure. It has designed its own compute and storage servers, and later its own networking switches. The company made a lot of those specs and design documents available to the public the same way developers share open source software.

Until now, however, OCP has been limited to the realm of web-scale and large enterprise data centers. Today’s announcement marks a major expansion of its relevance and influence, with a whole new industry on board whose infrastructure is going through fundamental changes.

Read more: Wall Street Rethinking Data Center Hardware

“AT&T will virtualize 75 percent of its network functions by 2020, and to do that, we need to move to a model of sophisticated software running on commodity hardware,” Andre Fuetsch, senior VP of architecture and Design at AT&T, said in a statement. “We’re becoming a software and networking company. As a result, our central offices are going to look a lot more like data centers as we evolve our networking infrastructure.

The organization has created a new OCP Telco Project to focus specifically on telco needs.

Equinix is joining as part of the OCP Telco Project. Many of its customers are network providers – about 1,100 of them – and it wants to be involved in development of next-generation interconnection technologies. “It also enables us to tap into the industry’s formidable resources and brain power, and share our own data center and interconnection expertise,” Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi said in a statement.

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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