Meet the President – Understanding the Next Phase of Open19

The Open19 Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Zachary Smith, CEO and co-founder of Packet, to the role of Open19 Foundation President.

This role was previously held by Yuval Bachar who contributed to the design and development of Open19 technology as well as the creation of the Open19 Foundation. The Foundation, which was established in 2017, has seen incredible growth and commitment from the ecosystem over the last two years. This leadership transition reflects the next phase for the Foundation as well as its ongoing dedication to fostering an open and engaged community for Open19 technology adopters and supporters.

We sat down with Zac to discuss his vision and goals for the Foundation’s next chapter; here’s what he had to say:

Tell us a little about yourself and what led you to your current role within the Open19 Foundation. 

I’ve had an interesting adventure, starting out running Linux in the Juilliard computer lab (when I was supposed to be in the practice room!) and now as CEO and co-founder of Packet, a bare metal cloud business based in NYC.  As a self described hardware nerd and champion of “sub scale” deployments, as soon as I was introduced to the Open19 foundation by Cole Crawford, founder of, I was super excited by both the tech and the community. Shortly thereafter, Packet joined as a founding member of Open19 and I’ve been humbled by what Yuval and the rest of the founding members and community have created.  Open19 is now a huge part of Packet, where roughly 10 engineers and technicians are working on Open19 technologies each and every day. Now, I’m looking forward to this opportunity as Foundation President to champion Open19 technology and the open and diverse community for datacenter hardware innovation that we have become.

In a recent member newsletter, you mentioned Packet’s Open19 Project; can you tell us more?

Packet is known for being “big on little servers” – so it was just common sense for our first Open19 bricks to be built to accommodate a microserver lineup. We’ve been working closely with ASRockRack – along with Molex, Celestica, and Delta – to create what we call our t2.small and c2.small microservers. These are half-width Open19 bricks for multi-node microservers, each supporting 2 x Mini-ITX motherboards and 2 x OCP Mezz cards for networking.  These are open designs and not owned by Packet – and we’re excited to get them added to the Foundation’s Marketplace so that others can benefit from our work and use them in their own deployments. We’ll continue to do this with additional server designs so please check the marketplace section on the Open19 website for updates!

With so much going on at Packet and your work on Open19, you must have developed a pretty solid list of goals for the Foundation. Can you share those?

Absolutely! I’ve got big aspirations and I know the Foundation board is just as dedicated to continuing the momentum we’ve already created. We are all committed to providing a strong framework for the Foundation as we move into 2020 and continue our efforts around Open19 adoption. 

My primary mission is to see the datacenter democratized – we want to crack open the world of datacenter hardware innovation and empower users of all kinds, across all verticals to compete with datacenter and edge infrastructure.  Open19 is the perfect community and technology foundation for that to occur — but we can’t share the benefits of Open19 if potential users aren’t aware it’s here, know how to try it and have the supply chain able to make it.   

As such, we’re going to make sure that the message is getting out there and that there are ample opportunities for any interested person – from customers and suppliers to developers and datacenter technicians – to engage with Open19 representatives and community members to ask questions, get tips and tricks or discuss roadmap items.   I know how hard it can be to adopt a new technology and the Foundation and its founding members are going to help provide the needed support to take Open19-based solutions from idea to reality. 

With that in mind, we’ve launched a Slack community to bring together our 2200+ community members so we can support one another.  You can get access to the Slack site on the Foundation’s website or simply email and we’ll invite you directly.  I hope to see you there!

Any other thoughts for the Foundation?

I could chat for hours about hardware and why I love the Open19 foundation and the tech Yuval and team have helped champion!  I’m grateful for the opportunity to help the foundation in my own way and look forward to supporting new customers, suppliers and partners as we grow in 2020.  Feel free to email me anytime at or hit me up on slack!  

We’d like to thank Zac for taking the time to meet with us. If you’d like to learn more about Zac, you can read his full bio here. Follow the Open19 Foundation on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube for regular technology and Foundation updates.