Friday, April 08, 2011
Facebook shares data center insights
In a move that is being marketed as an attempt to make data center innovation open source, social network company Facebook recently announced it will share the details of its own data centers with the public.
The company announced the launch of a new initiative, called the Open Compute Project, which will be geared toward the sharing of best practices for creating cost-effective and energy-efficient data centers.
Facebook has kicked off the project by publicizing information about the setup of its own, custom-built data centers. The information published includes details about hardware, such as server chassis, racks, motherboards, power supplies and battery cabinets. Furthermore, the company is sharing information about the mechanical and electrical construction specifications of its data center sites.
According to Facebook, a small group of engineers have been working for two years to optimize the company's massive data center infrastructure.
In a statement, Facebook said the team working out of a lab at the company's California-based headquarters designed its first new data center "from the ground up." The data center project, "which started out with three people, resulted in us building our own custom-designed servers, power supplies, server racks and battery backup systems."
Starting with a "clean slate" enabled the company to take measures that they otherwise may not have been able to use. For example, the new data centers reduce energy loss by utilizing a 480-volt electrical distribution system.
The company also reuses hot aisle air in winter to heat offices.
According to Facebook, these measures have made the company's Prineville data center an example worthy of emulation. The center uses 38 percent less energy than Facebook's other facilities to do the same work. Furthermore, overall expenses at the new data center are 24 percent less than an equivalent data center that has not been similarly optimized.
In an official statement, Facebook said making the details of its data centers open to the public would be mutually beneficial. "We want you to tell us where we didn’t get it right and suggest how we could improve," the company said. "And opening the technology means the community will make advances that we wouldn’t have discovered if we had kept it secret."
The open source model has previously been used for a variety of software initiatives, such as the Linux operating system and the Open Office software suite. It has also been used for certain hardware concepts, such as 3D printers.