Open19: A New Vision for the Data Center

July 19, 2016

This week at the DatacenterDynamics Webscale conference, I have the privilege of announcing the first step in a long journey, an initiative that we hope will further the state of hardware in the data center. Called Open19, this new project aims to establish a new open standard for servers based on a common form factor. The goals of Open19 are to provide lower cost per rack, lower cost per server, optimized power utilization, and (eventually) an open standard that everyone can contribute to and participate in.

  • Open19 front and side view
  • Open19 back view

What is Open19?

Open19 is a new initiative being launched by LinkedIn with more industry partners expected to join in the future. Open19 is our vision for a new type of open server and rack technology. Our plan is to build a standard that works in any EIA 19-inch rack, in order to allow many more suppliers to produce servers that will interoperate and will be interchangeable in any rack environment.

Open19 defines the form factor, power distribution, and network connectivity to servers, storage, and other elements in the data center that can fit within a 2RU size or smaller.

The Open19 platform is based on standard building blocks with the following specifications:

  • Standard 19-inch 4 post rack;
  • Brick cage;
  • Brick (B), Double Brick (DB), Double High Brick (DHB);
  • Power shelf—12 volt distribution, OTS power modules;
  • Optional Battery Backup Unit (BBU);
  • Optional Networking switch (ToR);
  • Snap-on power cables/PCB—200-250 watts per brick;
  • Snap-on data cables—up to 100G per brick;
  • Provides linear growth on power and bandwidth based on brick size.
  • Open19 Floating Rack

By focusing on these standard elements, we believe that Open19 designs will be more modular, efficient to install, and contain components that are easier to source than other custom open server solutions.

Open19 goals and overview

When the Open19 project started, we had a very specific set of goals for data centers at LinkedIn. Now that we plan to deploy this kind of standardized server design in our own facilities, we will share details about the kinds of efficiencies and cost savings that we were able to achieve with this platform.

We wanted to create an environment where we can use any 19-inch rack to:

  • Create an open standard that can fit any 19-inch rack environment for server, storage, and networking;
  • Enable rack deployment cost optimization;Reduce commons (cables, PDUs, etc.) by 50 percent;
  • Enable faster rack integration;
  • Achieve 2-3x faster integration time;
  • Build an ecosystem that will consolidate requirements and volumes.

We believe that such a solution will have applicability for large, medium, and small scale data centers.

We are investigating established standards organizations that will allow anyone to adopt, contribute back to, and participate in the Open19 project. We also believe that partners at every level will see value in participating. From the components suppliers that see value in standardizing a solution and enabling high volume common deployments, to the system level suppliers that see an opportunity to innovate and create a unique solution that still fits into common data centers, to the integrators and data center operators that will see benefits in reduced integration time and cost—there are incentives across the board when it comes to creating shared solutions in this space. The Open19 platform enables a high level of adoption by our peers and suppliers since it is simple, fits to any environment, and enables the full reuse of existing server and data center technology.

Open19 benefits

Open19 Logo

The Open19 platform represents the evolution of open hardware where the systems have common form factor, power, and network connectivity. However, at the same time, each product supplier can innovate and differentiate the technology they can excel at and leverage their existing motherboards and technology. The solution fits into any 19-inch rack and has a common efficient power distribution system. This approach creates savings across the board, from common capex calculations to the integration time reductions mentioned above.

The Open19 platform represents a simple solution for a complex problem, and that’s what makes it easy to adopt and develop for.

How can you be part of Open19?

If you like the aims of Open19 and want to learn more about this project—either as an individual, company, or industry partner—you can contact us through the project’s website,

We plan to standardize every aspect of the Open19 platform, to build it and create an innovative, competitive ecosystem—one that is simple, cost effective, and inclusive. Join us and we will make this an industry success.