Project Olympus: Microsoft's next-gen cloud hardware and the Open Cloud Project

Project Olympus is the name of Microsoft's newest hyper-scale open source cloud hardware architecture. With this new project, Microsoft is introducing a novel hardware development strategy for open community participation. It is based on the collaborative open-source model that has become popular in the software industry.

Microsoft’s Big Picture

Microsoft will open source its next-generation cloud hardware designs when they are around 50% complete, in contrast to earlier OCP initiatives. This is similar to how open source software allows users to modify and fork designs still in development. Project Olympus enables the community to contribute to the ecosystem by downloading, changing, and forking the hardware design.

In 2014, Microsoft became a member of the Open Compute Project (OCP), a collection of cloud service providers that also consists of Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM, Rackspace, and many more companies. Over the past two years, it has already contributed to a variety of server, networking, and data center architectures. With its most recent donation, Project Olympus, it is taking a somewhat different tack when it comes to open-source hardware. Contrary to the traditional approach for open-sourcing this kind of work, which entails publishing fully finished designs, the Project Olympus designs are not yet ready for manufacturing. Here, the objective is to ensure that the neighborhood can collaborate on design initiatives.

Working and Design

Microsoft is working closely with the Open Compute Project (OCP) team to enable Project Olympus as an open-source cooperative standard for server hardware that will provide both cloud and business services. The software behemoth claims that Project Olympus has "attracted the latest in silicon innovation" and has provided an improved paradigm for cutting-edge cloud applications like big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The 2017 OCP US Summit was where this information was made public.

The Project Olympus designs incorporate a new motherboard, a high-availability power supply with integrated batteries, a server chassis with a high-density storage expansion, and a new power distribution unit for the server racks that house these (or other) computers. So that potential clients can use them in their own customized data center setups, the designs are created to be modular.

Assistance with Modern Chips

The next AMD and Intel Zeon CPUs will have the Project Olympus standard to serve a variety of projects. Cavium and Qualcomm ARM CPUs will also be compatible with the hardware standard. Interestingly, this will create whole new markets because ARM-based CPUs are never associated with Microsoft software.

Microsoft works to provide hardware that is dependable, flexible, and capacity-scalable. The best aspect of this standard is that it is CPU-independent. Any CPU and supporting subsystem can therefore be utilized. The collaboration agreement between Project Olympus and chipmakers will also enable this independence.

Impact on the Cloud Market

The project is an example of how hardware, software, and services vendors may work together to benefit the whole cloud industry. For forward-thinking end users and enterprises, the project's shared cloud infrastructure facilitates simple migration from public to private clouds. Furthermore, infrastructure developed with the same style and tools as public clouds is undoubtedly extremely scalable and inexpensive. The unfinished designs that were submitted to the OCP hasten the development of derivative concepts, promote lively community participation and accelerate delivery generally.

Businesses will have a say in the features considered, ensuring that their expectations are taken into account either implicitly or explicitly. Participants in the initiative will benefit from taking the lead in innovation with their business partners and clients, and this will result in significant cost savings and improved productivity. The project is based on open formats and standards, free of proprietary technologies. It provides customers with a range of infrastructure choices. In terms of infrastructure and cloud providers, they have options.


In addition to allowing cutting-edge hardware, Microsoft hopes to set up a strong and quantifiable platform for cloud software development via Project Olympus. Azure is expected to use a few ongoing open-source projects to provide this software base. The rapid adoption of cloud computing already heralds a future based on the technology. It should be simpler for software developers to rely less on CPU and device driver requirements as a result of a global standard like Project Olympus.