The new business model brings challenges. Taiwan’s ODMs have long experience building low cost Wintel systems. But data center racks typically run Linux and other low-level open source code that needs to be carefully tweaked for best performance and lowest power.
So Quanta is now hiring software engineers at about twice the rate as hardware people.
“Power consumption highly depends on the specific workload of the data center,” said Yang. “I need to have people with expertise in BIOS, firmware and rack management software."
Yang will also invest this year in creating a software team to explore the OpenFlow protocol and software-defined networking. Google has championed the technology and other big data centers are showing interest in it as a way to simplify their increasingly large, complex networks.
“I believe big data centers will develop their own OpenFlow efforts, so I’d like to set up a team to help them,” said Yang, who aims to sell a complete package of data center hardware and software.
Quanta designs all its own top-of-rack switches, typically using Broadcom chips. Thus, it sees a natural progression to adopting OpenFlow. In this way, the Quantas of Taiwan will not only take on Dell and HP, but the Ciscos, Junipers and Aristas of the world as well.
Unlike typical business computer users, the big data centers are mainly focused on fast layer 2 networking with minimal complexity in layer three protocols, Yang said. “They have closed environments, understand the features they need and can control what they want to do,” he added.