Speaker Interview: Amber Graner

Amber Graner of the Open Compute Project answers the question "Why Open Hardware?" in her talk on SCALE 13x Saturday at 6. The SCALE Team caught up with Amber for an interview.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: Hi Hannah, and thank you and the SCALE13x organizers for this opportunity. I'm Amber Graner, the community manager for the Open Compute Project (OCP) Foundation. Prior to this I was the Linaro community manager. I got my personal start into open source Ubuntu in 2009, but had been on the periphery since the early '90s when units at Ft. Bragg, NC were looking into Linux solutions.

Q: You're giving a talk on Why Open Hardware? Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Sure thing. It's so exciting to see the OCP community come together to take open source software principles and philosophies and apply them the data center to drive innovation on both the hardware and software fronts. I'll take the audience through the current approved software and hardware contributions to OCP. Contributions from Facebook, Microsoft, Cumulus, Big Switch, Intel, Goldman Sachs and more. I'll also take a look at the hardware licenses that have been developed by and are now in use at OCP. I'll talk about our spec submission process and our ever growing community. At the end of the day, it's all about the beauty of open source innovation that drives down the data center costs.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event? 

A: I think I attended my first SCALE event in 2010. SCALE is one of my favorite open source community organized conferences because regardless of where a person believes themselves to be on the open source skills and abilities grid there is something for everyone.

This event brings some of the most passionate open source personalities together in one place to help anyone willing to listen and learn grow their knowledge around open source. As with any conference the overall tone and feeling of the conference takes on the personalities of its organizers.

The organizers of SCALE are some of the most sincere, hardworking, talented group of people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know. There is no technical arrogance amongst them and they welcome the opportunity to help anyone who wants to be involved in open source pick a lane and get involved. Besides that they are funny and their light hearted look at the world and themselves not only makes open source a better place, but all those who pay attention better for being part of the experience that is SCALE.

Q: Why is open source such a personal subject for you?

A: To me open source is more than the way in which you share, develop or use the software or hardware. It's not a religious experience for me, though I have been called a zealot at times. When you get involved in open source you get a community. Whether you choose to be part of it or not it's still going to be there. I love knowing I have the ability to get involved and influence a project I am working on. However, it is more than that.

Through my open source experience I have learned to be a more authentic me and that has made a huge difference in both my personal and my professional life. There will never be enough time or words to thank everyone for that gift. I can only hope that I give others the same encouragement that others gave me and that they go on to do great things in open source.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: For folks who are curious and want to find out more about Open Compute we have our OCP US Summit 15 event happening on March 10-11 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. More information about this event can be found on the Open Compute website at: http://summit.opencompute.org/

[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]