Open19, the industry group which began life with a design for a new rack standard, has relaunched with a bigger mission.
The Sustainable and Scalable Infrastructure Alliance (SSIA), which is now a Linux Foundation project, aims to provide open community standards and best practice ideas for data centers, pushing towards net zero and eliminating waste in energy and materials.
The Open19 group began with an alternative rack standard in 2016, complementing the Open Compute Project's Open Rack design. While OCP was designed for a membership of large hyperscale providers, Open19, which emerged from LinkedIn, was intended to offer standards that were accessible to a wider audience of smaller parties including telecom providers and colocation players. While OCP wanted to change the internal rack design dimension to 21 inches, Open19 wanted to innovate within the traditional 19-inch space.
In the following years, Open19 offered cooling standards and other projects, but broadened its scope. In 2021 it merged into the Linux Foundation project, becoming a center for open-source hardware within the otherwise software-
"The underpinnings of digital infrastructure focused body are an important untapped area," the departing chair of Open19, Zachary Smith told DCD in an interview. "Every single conversation we have had has focused on efficiency - how to use energy more efficiently, how to use sheet metal more efficiently, and so on."
Smith took over the leadership of Open19 from founder Yuval Bachar, who went from LinkedIn to Microsoft to a hydrogen-powered data center building startup ECL in 2023. Now Smith has to hand over the baton, as the constitution of Open19/SSIA requires the chair to be employed by one of the group's sponsors. Smith moved on from sponsor Equinix in June, to focus on smaller startups.
The new chair at SSIA will be Equinix field CEO My Truong, a cooling and hardware expert, who was heavily involved in the development of the pluggable liquid cooling standard embodied in the Open19v2 design, and its 48V power distribution system.
The Open19 name will continue in an SSIA subgroup continuing the rack design work, while the SSIA will also include other areas, including more general cooling issues, and the difficult problem of reducing material that is disposed of to landfill.
“Today, circular and renewable IT are boardroom concerns as technology advancements and corporate ESG objectives rapidly converge,” said Zac Smith. “Since its founding, Open19 has committed to accelerating the adoption of disruptive power and cooling technologies for workloads that drive towards net zero carbon footprints for the world’s data center technology. The new SSIA brand and vision reflects the diverse expertise of our community members across the entire tech supply chain, and will open new doors to collaborate and solve big challenges that face our planet and society.”
“Traditionally, data center technology innovation focused primarily on accelerating computing-related benefits and didn’t consider or pursue sustainability,” said My Truong. “This is changing quickly and we expect the journey that the SSIA is on will be one that every company will need to travel over the next couple of years. There are significant opportunities to accelerate tech innovation while reducing the environmental impact of IT as a good business practice and I’m committed as the SSIA Chairperson to being a part of getting this important mission right.”