How to use Facebook's open sourced data center design to cut costs

By Paul Rubens, CIO |  Data Center, Facebook, Open Compute Project

Facebook has proven that its designs work in its purpose-built data center in Oregon, but the vast majority of enterprises have far smaller computing environments and are unlikely to embark on a new data center build. So the question you're probably asking is this: can regular small and medium sized businesses, or even large enterprises that don't carry out computing on the same scale as Facebook, benefit from OCP designs? And if so, how?

"We certainly expected initially that our designs would appeal only to companies doing large scale computing like us, or companies like banks that have huge IT operations," says Frankovsky. "But it turns out that there is almost no limit to who can benefit. I would argue that the OCP is applicable to everyone, and who wouldn't want to be more efficient and eliminate gratuitous differentiation?"

The reason that anyone can benefit is that you don't have to build a new data center to achieve some of the cost savings: You can pick and choose which OCP specifications to adopt. That means that even if you are using colocation facilities you could put in OCP servers and power supplies and make significant power and cost saving.

"We achieved a 38% reduction in energy usage in a newly built data center, but putting OCP servers in a colocation you could expect energy savings of at least half that," says Frankovsky. The news is even better when it comes to overall cost savings: Frankovsky says he believes that even if you are responsible for a fairly small IT environment, you could still match Facebook's 24% cost reduction. That's because while Facebook was already getting heavy discounts on its hardware due to its scale, you probably aren't. That means the cost savings from switching to cheaper OCP gear--minus the gratuitous differentiation--will be all the more significant.

Smaller Enterprise Benefit From OCP

But Digital Realty Trust CTO Jim Smith says that its existing cooling systems are already very efficient, even if they can't quite match OCP standards. "Smaller customers can pick their own OCP servers, and we can offer them between 75% and 85% of the benefits that Facebook gets at its data center," he says.

Smith says that typical customers for Digital Reality's OCP environments will be small-to-midsized companies or large, non-technology intensive companies that require between 1 and 3 megawatts of capacity. So far the company is in talks with potential customers, but has yet to sign any up.


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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