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Redfish spec wiggles servers free from vendor lock-in

Joab Jackson | Oct. 7, 2014
A coalition of equipment providers have joined to develop a new specification for controlling servers over the network, promising to eliminate data center vendor lock-in.

"If you are ILO shop, you probably more likely to buy an HP server, because you already have HP's server system software to talk to all of these servers," Kueth said.

Redfish is designed to be extensible, so vendors can extend the standard to support their own features, without breaking compatibility with Redfish's basic core of services. "If I extend it, it doesn't break reverse compatibility," Kueth said.

Beyond servers, Redfish could also be used to control network switches, power distribution systems, storage servers, and other network connected devices.

"Redfish is basically a schema, a dataset and a transport based on commonly used Web services," so it can be used within a large set of computational networked devices, Kueth said.

At this time, Redfish is not backward-compatible with IPMI, though Kueth expects that the first few generations of servers that will run Redfish will also run IPMI, so that users can plan to migrate their servers to the new specification over time.

Kueth acknowledged that the specification is in part a response to the Open Compute Project, a Facebook-led initiative to create a set of open standards for data center hardware independent of hardware manufacturers and eliminate vendor lock-in.

Open Compute is also looking at standardizing remote server control, though has not yet joined the Redfish effort.

"Open Compute's manageability goals is very similar to the goals of Redfish, but they are not the same effort," Kueth said.


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