It's all just a little bit of history repeating

Written by Matthew Larbey, Product Strategy Director Published 2015-09-10 08:00:00

Or could be at least.

Earlier in my career I was fortunate to work at Motorola from 2006 onwards (the technology company I was working at having been acquired), at a time when RAZR was being celebrated for shipping 50 million units and the industry was dominated by Nokia, with RIM (Blackberry) and Motorola riding comparatively high in the market share stakes. There were a few new developments in the market (Apple creating a phone?!) but largely these were dismissed within the industry as never likely to gain a significant foothold.

Then, within a space of a few years everything had changed to a point where two major forces impacted and changed the industry forever – Apple, building on a wildly growing consumer device brand launched their iPhone and Android (Google) who finally managed to get a decent smartphone software platform built upon Linux and embraced the open source world through the Open Handset Alliance.

This group, comprising of hardware, software and telecoms companies had one aim – to develop an open set of standards for mobile devices and lower the cost point of smartphones through collaboration, contribution of time, expertise and software source code.

Android still remains open source today - it is developed in private by Google, with the source code released publicly when a new version of Android is released for others to take on, innovate and develop further.

Working in the data centre colocation industry for long enough affords a goodsense of perspective. During that time I have seen a number of very large 'game changer' innovations take place in mechanical/electrical design, cooling techniques, efficiencies with the ever greater increase of software, analytics and management tools.

While firmly in the domain of the customer, I have also seen a huge impact of open source software being used by customers in their IT deployments that have gone on to be deployed within the data centres I have worked and continue to work in.

What really intrigues me now are the open source initiatives that are beginning to mature and develop products within this market. OpenStack, OpenPOWER and The Open Compute Project are just some of these.

The Open Compute Project, for example, is an organisation that shares designs of data centres and associated technologies with an aim to create more collaboration on everything from the software being used to the servers being deployed through to the mechanical and electrical design of the data centre. Contributors and users include the likes of Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Rackspace, Cisco, Juniper Networks, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, and Bank of America.

Some scoff at the impact that initiatives like the Open Compute Project will have in the data centre market, but since VIRTUS joined the group and the more time I spend with those involved, the more I am beginning to wonder if this is about to become 2006 again.