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OpenPOWER Foundation Delivers on Founders’ Vision

Foundation Fosters Open Innovation
Illustration by Script & Seal

Since launching in 2013, the OpenPOWER Foundation has become a champion of open systems and innovation freedom.

IBM, Google, Mellanox, NVIDIA and Tyan formed the foundation to create open systems from the software to the hardware layer. Today, it has over 200 partners— including technology providers, ISVs and end users—dedicated to advancing open systems. It continues to add partners, encourage development of new technologies and build a thriving community.

The organization’s first year focused on strategy, vision and direction. In year two, the foundation looked at experimentation, prototypes and workable solutions. This year, OpenPOWER delivers on the founders’ vision, says Calista Redmond, president, OpenPOWER Foundation.

Guiding Principles

The foundation’s guiding principles—collaboration, open systems, and intertwined hardware and software—have propelled it toward its goals.

Collaboration is critical to solve present challenges, Redmond says. Thought leaders in systems and design are working with end users to solve data center and workload issues. “By teaming together, we can create solutions much faster and fine-tune systems to meet challenges,” she says. This creates a community that’s invested in mutual and long-term success.

An open approach enables the creation and construction of open building blocks, such as interconnects, system designs and the architecture itself, which can all be leveraged to serve open systems. The glue that holds building blocks together is as important as the blocks themselves. It’s the glue that enables long-term advantages for everyone, Redmond says.

The foundation’s emphasis on creating systems and solutions that intertwine the software with the hardware is game-changing. “When you can take a software stack from an ISV or a custom stack from an end user and port it over to POWER*, you achieve parity; you are at the same level as x86,” says Redmond, who is also director of IBM OpenPOWER Global Alliances. POWER’s capability to optimize through the entire stack, which yields magnitude improvements in workload performance, allows you to move beyond parity, she says. Combining and optimizing the software with the underlying hardware is the new way to design and deploy workloads in the data centers.

As the world progresses from analytics to predictive analytics to machine learning and cognitive, hardware and software must have a close relationship. This allows the system’s compute capacity to run analytics and gather additional sources of information to generate immediate answers. Businesses are increasingly reliant on this process, as it helps them generate insights to boost revenue.

By accelerating genome sequencing, for example, we receive faster insights and reduce the cost of sequencing itself. Cognitive systems can integrate information from medical journals and patient records, resulting in more personalized medicine. Further, cognitive likely will be used to not only predict the instance of a particular cancer but also to develop a treatment path for the patient. “That changes the game and brings it to a level that is more attainable by more parts of the community,” Redmond notes.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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