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OPG: Utopia comes to tech

“For what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety?

So wrote the English author and philosopher Sir Thomas More in his novel, Utopia, almost 500 years ago. More’s utopian dreams continue to thrive in one guise or another to the present day; in the world of technology, his egalitarian optimism suffuses the world of open source and its numerous community efforts throughout the world.

Optimism is also a keystone of the research I’ve led over the past few years at the Tau Institute, where we measure the relative progress in building IT infrastructure in more than 100 countries.

The Open Performance Grid

Previously, I’ve written about a new effort to promote openness:

Now I can talk about our new effort in detail. We’ve joined with industry leaders to create the Open Performance Grid, or OPG.

Announced in San Francisco earlier this month, the Open Performance Grid measures openness, performance, and leadership of hardware, software, and designs for modern data centers. Our efforts here are bringing together the two great worlds of software development and data center management.

With the amount of data in the world has already reached into multiple zettabytes annually. A Zettabyte is one million petabytes or one thousand exabytes. With data creation doubling every three years (according to Cisco, among others), we will reach an unthinkable yottabyte by the year 2040.


We believe that an open technology approach is the only path to creating the software to meet this incredible need, and the hardware that can handle it.

Clear Benefits

An open technology approach offers several clear benefits:

  • Community development fosters innovation
  • Security and support options increase
  • Open architecture prevents single vendor lock-in
  • Open, competitive markets benefit buyers
  • Open standards enable market hypergrowth

The OPG is a community effort with input from technology users and buyers, analysts and researchers, and vendors who wish to compare their own self-assessments with what the community is saying.

Sample measures of openness, beyond simple open-source availability, include the presence, size, and activity of a community and foundation for a particular technology. Market share, benchmark performance, and what we call the Innovation Curve are also part of the mix.

Software categories include operating systems, virtualisation, containers, PaaS, IaaS services and stacks, monitoring/analytics, management consoles, software-defined storage, SDN, SDDC. For hardware, we’re looking at chips, boards, subsystems, and even overall data center designs.

Technology users can now sign up to participate in the OPG:

Equitable Progress

The OPG builds upon the utopian idea in our Tau Institute research that steady progress in building out IT will improve the lives of people. We’ve found a correlation between increasing levels of IT use and increasing income parity. Yet we’ve also found several socioeconomic factors that impede equitable growth throughout a society, and inequities continue to persist even in well-developed regions.

One interesting finding relevant to recent news, for example, is there’s a greater disparity in IT development between Germany and Greece than between the United States and Mexico or Japan and the Philippines.

We believe that technology provides the greatest productivity tools for any economy, and productivity is what drives economic growth. We further believe that with an open approach applied broadly, this growth will be as equitable as possible.

With equitable growth comes the “cheerfulness, peace of mind, and (relative) freedom of anxiety” mentioned in Utopia. Sir Thomas would be proud.