Horizon Computing: designing and integrating open hardware solutions for data centers

Meet Guillaume Giamarchi, Horizon Computing lead software engineer, startup that is currently participating to the 1st season of Orange Fab “Telecom Track” program.

What are the activities of Horizon Computing?

GG: It is, first and foremost, an engineering company, focused on open hardware technologies in the world of data centers. We design and integrate hardware solutions and we support our customers with their deployments. We are also actively engaged in driving communities, particularly within the Open Compute Foundation, and open source projects dedicated to mechanical and electronic design tools.

When was the start-up created?

GG: Some 11 years ago. However, 4 years ago, the company turned its business around completely, to focus on activities related to open hardware.

How many people are in the “Horizon” team?

GG: There are currently nine of us. We expect high staff growth in 2018, in the order of 50%.

In what way is Horizon’s approach innovative?

GG: Historically, the world of data centres is dominated by a few major hardware manufacturers, but this can hinder innovation. We really believe that the emergence of open hardware will bring more innovation and creativity, greater flexibility and more freedom for consumers.
Furthermore, we are designing an original system called RuggedPOD. This is an outdoor computing solution with high energy efficiency, which could prove particularly beneficial in telecoms for edge computing applications. By using RuggedPOD as a base station for mobile networks, we could bring more storage and computing capacity closer to users. For example, data caching would help to deliver a better quality of service for the user and cut backhaul costs. It is, of course, an open hardware project.

How do you position yourself in relation to the competition?

GG: Unlike traditional hardware suppliers, we do not have a monopoly on the hardware that we supply. Although a significant portion of our income comes from the sale of hardware, the design of this equipment is open and so our added value mainly lies in our expertise and our ability to provide support to our customers for the integration of these technologies.

“We really believe that the emergence of open hardware will bring more innovation and creativity”

Guillaume Giamarchi, Horizon Computing lead software engineer

What challenges do you face?

GG: Our greatest challenge is to increase people’s awareness of open hardware and the positive impact it can have on their own businesses. We need to make the market aware of the fact that it involves market-ready technologies, currently available even for wide-scale deployments. Although companies like Facebook and Microsoft use hundreds of thousands of Open Compute production servers, we often come up against great scepticism. However, attitudes are gradually changing.

And can you tell us a little about yourself, Guillaume Giamarchi? 

GG: I am a software engineer, with almost 10 years’ experience in development. More specifically, my skills are focused on backend software architectures and cloud computing. Within Horizon Computing, I am responsible for software development as well as infrastructure management.

What does Horizon Computing expect from its collaboration with Orange?

GG: By the very nature of its business, Orange has a constant need to develop and replace its IT infrastructures. We would be really thrilled to support Orange in its migration projects towards open hardware infrastructures. In addition, working with a top-tier company such as Orange can help us gain better visibility on the market to get across our message.

Specifically, what does the collaboration with Orange Fab France bring to you?

GG: Orange Fab France has enabled us to meet the Group’s teams, with whom we are working right now in order to fulfil actual projects.