Facebook may be changing the server business for ever

Posted by Emory Kale

A new data center in Lulea, Sweden, is an exemplar of the good Facebook is capable of. It is trying to do for hardware what Linux did for software. And it may be succeeding.

Through its Open Compute Project (OCP), Facebook creates its own hardware specs for servers and shares them with anyone to use. Open sourcing hardware designs in this way has lead to strip down designs that are functional and practical, and the new Swedish data center is the first to be complete filled with OCP servers. In addition, Facebook is a champion of green technologies and through OCP is championing the less is more approach to building out its servers. And if you go by the data alone, it seems to be working well for Facebook and it should work equally well for everyone else.

HP and Dell are building servers to Facebook's OCP specifications, and the two year old initiative may end up being the company's greatest contribution to open source movement. In Sweden, the data centers are said to be powered by locally hydro-eletric energy plants. In addition, the bracing norther European climate is cooling the thousands upon thousands of servers further reducing the company's carbon footprint.

You can get near real-time data data on Facebook's Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) for its Forest City, North Carolina data center here. Lulea's PUE is 1.07, by comparison. The green dashboard FAQ gives you some background reference and defintion for the green values associated with the data centers.

Google championed the use of cheap and fast hardware, snapping up thousands of low cost motherboards as it started to take off. Now, Facebook is leading the way by championing the use of more efficient hardware wtihout extraneous components and subsytems. Arguably, considering the volume of traffic both companies handle in comparison to other companies around the world, it may not be long before every enterprise is specifying and getting its own server modules.