The “Open” opportunity for the Danish data center ecosystem: Interview with OCP’s John Laban

The Open Compute Project (OCP) is an open source hardware community movement which aims to bring transparency to hardware development by sharing ideas and innovations collectively to be better and more efficient. The non-profit OCP Foundation started in 2011 by the hyperscalers (Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc) but has now grown to include the worlds Telecommunications Service Providers and companies at various stages of the data center supply chain. A report published in March 2018 by IHS Markit forecasts a five fold increase in revenues for OCP vanity free open source hardware by 2021.

In preparation for DDI’s Networking Meet-Up for its members from the data center ecosystem in Denmark on September 11 in Odense, the Danish Data Center Industry sat with OCP Reset Catalyst and EMEA Lead John Laban for a fire-side chat on OCP’s growing community. Furthermore, John shares his thoughts on the “open” opportunities for Danish and Nordic operators, and how vendors and operators alike should embrace the OCP wave.

Danish Data Center Industry: Why is the open source model increasingly gaining traction in the industry across the world?

John Laban: Open Source technology is not a new phenomenon! This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of “The Baby” which was the world’s first stored program-controlled computer hacked together by a group of open collaborators at Manchester University in 1948. If one studies the early innovations of those heavier than air flying machines, you will also discover that this too was an open source technology. Have you ever wondered why the parts of these flying machines use French words – fuselage, aileron – when the first flight was in the USA? This was because the Wright Brothers closed down innovation in the USA by going patents stir crazy so the open source collaboration shifted to Europe and today we use a French derived word for these heavier than air flying machines -“aeroplanes”

The largest machine created by humans is the “Open Internet” and without open collaboration and sharing the infrastructure, this machine would never have been possible. The Human Genome Project is another example of an open source technology innovation. Humans are social sharing animals and this is why we proliferate to all corners of the Earth – collaboration is burnt into our DNA.

As we build on the Open Internet that is accelerating permission less innovation, we humans are beginning to realise that we will only solve these problems through open collaboration.

Are you aware that there are no patents on Tesla cars? Ever wondered why? Openness produces better products faster so it will always win in the end.

Danish Data Center Industry: How relevant is it for operators in Denmark and which type of operations can especially benefit here?

John Laban: Those hyperscale data centres in Denmark are built using open source technologies. The new Facebook Data Centre under construction in Odense will be an OCP optimized facility, filled with vanity free open source servers, storage and network gear.

Denmark has an extensive district heating infrastructure which is ideal for plugging data centres into and OCP optimized data centres are more suited for heat reuse because technicians do not go to the back of OCP racks so it’s possible to run much hotter hot aisles than in traditional air cooled data centres. I should also mention that a liquid cooling subgroup was formed this month in the OCP community and this is by far the best match for recovering heat for district heating systems because it reduces the additional energy required for heat pumps.

OCP is relevant for Colo Data Centres and Enterprise Data Centres as well as the hyperscallers that gave birth to these open source vanity free hardware solutions back in 2011 and consume millions of OCP servers per year.

Denmark will be seeing OCP adopted in its Telephone Exchanges, and this trend is global and its happening fast. See

Danish Data Center Industry: What opportunities are there for the Danish supplier ecosystem?

John Laban: With OCP optimized data centres, the OPEX pie changes when compared to traditional data centres. Even though the energy used in an OCP data centre is less (e.g., OCP servers use up to 50% less energy and PUE’s are always better than 1.1) than in an equivalent work load traditional enterprise data centre, the percentage of the OPEX cost pie for energy is higher because of the way that OCP slashes those other costs. This change results in relocation of data centres into lower energy cost regions such as Denmark. There is a wonderful example of this in the Yahoo! Japan case study.

The opportunities are therefore vast for the Danish ecosystem, as I envision more colos and hyperscalers will be increasingly embracing the open model for these gains. And Denmark (and its Nordic neighbours) is becoming the land which hosts the worlds tech giants these days.

Danish Data Center Industry: How do you see the industry unfold in the Nordics?

John Laban: The potential for data centres in the Nordics is huge, but this will only be realized if the Nordic countries start cooperating and what’s needed now is perhaps a Nordics Data Centre Industry Association of sorts. By working together, the Nordics have the potential to suck the data centre industry out of the rest of Europe before the window of opportunity closes. And I truly believe that the time is ripe now for the Nordics to shine on the data center front. They already are in a lot of ways.


To learn more about the OCP movement from John and how it can benefit your business, we invite our Executive and Business members to sign up to the event here.

Time: September 11, 2018, 1pm – 4pm
Place: COWI, Vestre Stationsvej 7, 5000 Odense, Denmark


Considering a membership? Limited places available for prospective members. Please contact for more information.

To learn more about the OCP movement in Europe, OCP is hosting their Regional Summit in Amsterdam on October 1-2 2018. Click here to register!