April 28, 2011, 6:39 AM — Facebook's innovative new data center design -- believed to be one of the world's most energy-efficient facilities of its kind -- will have a significant influence on corporate data center build-outs over the next several years, experts say.
Facebook's new Prineville, Ore., data center features an outside air-cooled building, energy-efficient power supplies, battery back-up and custom servers.
In an unusual move, Facebook revealed the details of its data center design and created the Open Compute Project, an open source community, to help improve it. Facebook has partnered with Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Quanta and others on the Open Compute Project, and is also working with Dell, HP, Rackspace, Skype and Zynga on new designs.
BACKGROUND: Facebook shares its data center secrets
Facebook's decision to open source its data center is "groundbreaking in terms of having the potential to make the whole industry more energy efficient," says Mark Monroe, executive director of The Green Grid, an industry group dedicated to improving the energy-efficiency of data centers. Facebook recently joined The Green Grid as a contributing member.
"For folks like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and eBay, their data center is their factory, and they are focused on making transactions happen at the lowest cost possible," Monroe says, adding that when these companies share their data center secrets it "really moves the whole industry forward."
"It would be hard to overstate the significance of Facebook's Open Compute Project," says Randy Smith, director of real estate with hosting company Rackspace. "It's long been mysterious and mystified in how large, Web-scale companies achieve the efficiency that they achieve. For Facebook to demystify this ... will have a ripple effect.''
Smith says most companies are not seeking to differentiate themselves in terms of their data center design, and yet there are efficiencies to be gained by copying companies like Facebook that are leaders in this area. "The more that efficiencies can be pushed out to companies that wouldn't otherwise enjoy them, the better," he adds.