Social networking giant Facebook says it will share the knowledge gained in building its newest data center as part of a broader initiative to support advancements in cloud computing and energy-efficient data center design.

The company announced the launch of its Open Compute Project, an initiative to share specifications and best practices, so the wider industry can build upon and improve on the progress achieved by Facebook.

Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook, said in a blog that the company benefitted from essentially having a blank slate when it set out to design its latest data center in Prineville, Ore. “Because we started with a clean slate, we had total control over every part of the system, from the software to the servers to the data center,” he said.

The result was a data center that uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less, he added. The technology is expected to benefit companies that are building out cloud computing infrastructures, as well as third-party providers.

Facebook said it is providing full access to its internally developed best practices and specifications through “We want you to tell us where we didn’t get it right and suggest how we could improve,” Heiliger said. “And opening the technology means the community will make advances that we wouldn’t have discovered if we had kept it secret.”

Among the advances being shared, are specifications and mechanical designs for hardware used in Facebook’s Prineville data center, including motherboards, power supply, server chassis, server rack and battery cabinets. In addition, the company said it would share its data center electrical and mechanical construction specifications.




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