Literally, in fact.
Today, Facebook took a dramatically different course than its peers and let the world look behind the curtain. Whereas other big Internet firms consider the “nuts and bolts” details of their IT infrastructure a competitive advantage, Facebook open sourced its custom, energy efficient server and data center tech under the Open Compute Project.
Prineville data center redeemed?
Despite courting controversy for siting its first ever data center in Prineville, Oregon — it’s primarily powered by coal — Facebook has been able to realize huge energy savings. In fact, the Prineville center uses “38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less.”
This is achieved by implementing free-cooling, Ethernet-powered LED lighting (!) and dumping traditional UPS (uninterruptible power supply) setups in favor of battery cabinets that are sandwiched between “triplet” server racks. Each triplet is comprised of three 42U columns that house 90 servers total and six rack switches. Also in the mix are custom motherboards and 94.5 percent efficient (90-plus technically speaking) power supplies.
All told, the innovations are helping Facebook deliver 93 percent of the power its Prineville facility takes from the grid to its servers and hit and impressively low 1.07 PUE mark — better than the company’s already-enviable 1.5 PUE rating. It also bodes extremely well for the company’s second data center build in North Carolina.
Sure, the specter of coal still hangs over the facility. But by its actions today, Facebook is providing the IT community actionable insights and technical know-how that has the potential for tremendous energy efficiency gains in a data center market that’s growing rapidly thanks to the rising popularity of Web services and clouds. Though many eco-minded geeks would like to see the company embrace renewable energy for low-emissions computing, this is a step in right direction and at the right time. Plus, all this could help add momentum to the clean energy cause by providing firms with a roadmap for future facilities that make the best use of any and all energy sources.
Follow the leader
If nothing else, Facebook has made itself synonymous with efficient IT operations (1.07 PUE!). Even if server vendors and IT managers turn their noses up at the Open Compute Project’s designs and methodologies, Facebook’s influence looms large. Granted, its popularity and market presence may be tough to achieve, but here’s one aspect of its success that any forward-thinking IT department can absolutely replicate and at lower cost than traditional approaches: its data centers.
In short, Facebook is mainstreaming Green IT. What’s not to like?
Image Credit: Open Compute Project