Mark III Systems Blog

Mark III + OpenPOWER + OCP + On-Premise = Barreleye


As a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, Mark III was in attendance this week at the Open Compute Project Summit in San Jose.

If you weren't aware, Mark III recently formally joined the OpenPOWER Foundation as a Silver member as a key step on our way to bringing unique, compelling OpenPOWER systems to enterprises, service providers, and organizations that are seeking highly-efficient, hyperscale compute options.  Although we have informally collaborated with community members in the Foundation for many years, formally joining the Foundation enabled us to be able to speak more freely about our intentions and really start working toward developing and shipping systems with OpenPOWER technologies to clients across North America.

The "equation" in the title of this blog post might make sense to some, but for those that it might still somewhat confuse, here is a quick primer on the definition of the terms.

Mark III (us) = Long-time IBM Premier Business Partner and skilled throughout the product lifecycle in most all things IBM, POWER, enterprise/service provider infrastructure, and enterprise cloud tech stack (among other things)

OpenPOWER = Open technical membership organization based around the POWER processor and its system platform in which members can optimize for their business needs by designing and building their own custom system

Open Compute Project (OCP) = Collaborative community focused on redesigning hardware technology to efficiently support the growing demands on compute infrastructure.  Most organizations today that have adopted OCP are hyperscale users and the Open Compute design spec generally caters to the efficiency needs of large-scale users of compute (OCP having been started by Facebook in 2011)

On-Premise = Systems located inside an enterprise or service provider's datacenter

And what is Barreleye?

Barreleye is an ultra-powerful, highly-efficient server built with OpenPOWER technologies (including POWER8 processors) to an Open Compute Project spec that Rackspace initially announced their intention to build and rollout over the last year for OpenStack services and have been working toward a launch in the near future for their cloud services.


Barreleye   Barreleye-MarkIII


That announcement was great for Rackspace, but what if an enterprise/organization/service provider actually wants to run with Barreleyes on-premise or in a hybrid cloud scenario (and may or may not need some extra help exploring where it fits in)?  That's where Mark III comes in!

In the very near future, it's our intention to offer Barreleye servers in various configurations that can be sourced through Mark III anywhere in North America (along with our assistance/support/services, as needed).  As of right now, Barreleye will be the only OpenPOWER system built in the Open Compute Project spec, so it is very uniquely positioned to combine the extreme efficiency of the POWER processor (and all the open source enablement of the BIOS and OpenBMC) with all the awesome aspects of Open Compute, which large-scale users of compute have grown to love.

Here are some other random caveats and thoughts around this statement of direction, in case you're curious:

  • Barreleye, like other OpenPOWER platforms, is Linux only (AIX/IBM i/etc will stay on IBM-branded POWER systems only)
  • Barreleye, in general, has seen around ~30-100% price/performance improvements vs. similar x86 platforms in a battery of intense testing (depending on the exact workload)
  • In our opinion, the sweet spot for Barreleye initially is workloads that include open source software/frameworks, analytics, HPC, Research, and generally any cloud-centric service that can benefit from an extreme amount of price-performance compute efficiency
  • Barreleye is built on the OCP spec, so this means you would need an Open Rack to house it (rather than the standard 19'' rack that most enterprises use)
  • If you intend to port an existing application to Barreleye... I'm sure it'll probably work, but it's important to ensure that the ISV and related ecosystem will support Barreleye from the application standpoint (open source workloads are simpler in this respect)


If you have any questions about Barreleye or are just generally curious about our announcement or the OpenPOWER Foundation, please feel free to reach out and start a conversation!