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Bank of America wants to shove its IT into an OpenCompute cloud. What could go wrong?

Cheaper customised hardware is good for Facebook

Selling hardware to the financial industry used to be a cash cow for big-name server makers, but they will be getting short shrift from Bank of America, which is shifting its IT into a white-box-powered, software-defined cloud.

"I worry that some of the partners that we work closely with won't be able to make this journey," David Reilly, chief technology officer at the bank, told The Wall Street Journal.

Bank of America made the decision to slide the bulk of its backend computing systems to the cloud in 2013, and wants to have 80 per cent of its systems running in software-defined data centres within the next three years. Last year it spent over $3bn on new computing kit.

To make the move, the bank is talking to hardware manufacturers building low-cost, no-brand cloud boxes as part of the OpenCompute Project, which was started by Facebook as a way to reduce the cost of data centre hardware while customizing machines for particular jobs.

"What works for a Facebook or a Google may not work in a highly regulated environment such as the one we operate within," Reilly noted.

A lot of that regulation will be a software issue, however, and Reilly said the bank is chatting to factories about that. But for servers, the days of cushy deals for HP, Dell, and Lenovo could well be numbered. ®

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