The Open Compute Certification and Solutions Laboratory located in the Flawn Sciences Building is the first lab of its kind to open in North America.

The lab will operate as a neutral third-party site for people interested in the Open Compute Project (OCP), which designs and tests hardware.

In open source hardware, people are able to design programs and put them up for anyone to use. Students can apply for a limited number of lab positions available per semester, giving them the opportunity to work with the latest technological hardware.

“The industry is very interested (in the OCP) because it is a critical piece of activity for them to be able to sell their products to their customer,” explained Raj Boppana, professor and interim chair of UTSA’s Department of Computer Sciences.

“(It) gives UTSA a lot of visibility with the industry partners. They communicate with us and send hardware to us to certify. There is a lot of benefit.”

The benefit comes in the form of sponsoring student activities and student research, having access to the the latest technologies and building UTSA’s credibility. The lab provides an opportunity for manufacturers to test their hardware and solutions. As the lab continues to grow, other departments are becoming involved with the project.

“As we are building our credibility and well-positioning our ecosystem, we (then) open to all the departments so then they can bring their expertise to the table,” said Paul Rad, Rackspace employee and director of Applied Research in Cloud Computing. “(There is no better place) than a diverse university such as UTSA because we have a broad range of scientific and engineering research.”

The OCP is supported by the OCP Foundation whose members include Facebook, Rackspace, AMD, Intel, Avnet, Mellanox, and Quanta.

“Rackspace has been a tremendous partner of UTSA in this effort,” said Boppana. “They gave a lot of hardware to get started on this. They have actually shown a lot of interest in our progress. That has given us a lot of advantages in terms of what we are able to do.”

With the OCP, UTSA is gaining attention from corporations such as Google and HP and universities like MIT who are interested in UTSA’s new, unique addition. This brings UTSA to the forefront of cloud-related research.

“The opening of Open Compute is the glue to building something bigger. Being the first one in the United States, we have created an interesting link (to) UTSA and San Antonio,” said Rad.

“This cross section of what we created with this momentum of bridging this gap (is that) we are a game room of innovation, that we are filling the gap of industry and research that is giving a lot of momentum, that the sky is the limit.”

UTSA was recently ranked number one in the nation for cyber security after 14 years of building the program. The OCP is looking to gain similar status in less time.

Carlos Cardenas, cloud solutions manager at UTSA, said, “Right now we have this lab downstairs, and researchers are coming in asking how to be a part of that. For us to be good at something, that takes a long time. We have to change the game.”

With the opening of the Open Compute Certification and Solutions Lab, UTSA has much to look forward to as the Department of Computer Sciences continues to grow rapidly, garner attention and recognition and become a leader in technological research.

The OCP has the potential to not only highlight UTSA as a premier technological institution, but also to make San Antonio a main site for IT to be gathered and exchanged.

“To be number one in something, you have to have that desire,” said Rad. “I think that UTSA has that desire to be well known for something”

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