back to article Facebook's data center play sidelines Google, Apple

Facebook, in one fell swoop, has made the Apple-versus-Google Android openness debate sound even sillier than it is. On Thursday, Facebook didn't announce an open-source mobile platform that somehow manages to not be very open. No, that was Google. Instead, Facebook announced it was open sourcing its server and data center …


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What is so revolutionary?

I'm sorry, as an Infrastructure Manager who manages data centers I fail to see what is so revolutionary here. Many companies already have racks of servers sitting wide open to the data center elements in custom racks. Yes they designed their own motherboards and sourced the components themselves, but in reality they now have to QA each component and support all of that equipment themselves. Oh wait, I forgot, they "open-sourced" Intel and AMDs reference designs for motherboards minus the components they don't need.

I give them props for the evaporated water air cooling, seems like a neat idea, but one would hope that they never get to great a humidity issue in the data center. The power supplies sound pretty interesting too, but I think that we will have to wait and see what the efficiency actual turns out to be.

Am I being to hard on Facebook for wondering why they would expend effort and energy designing a commodity product? It just seems like a waste of effort that is fraught with potential risk. Facebook is software company that wants to get into hardware design now? I just don't understand.




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Big if you could replicate it.

Unless you start building servers yourselves, power supplies yourself, in fact everything yourself you cannot.

Doing that however is up to only someone the size of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. Even Apple is not quite in that league. The rest of us mere mortals cannot even think about it.

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"Why can Facebook do this?"

Because it's been given the money to do it.

Being able to scale hardware efficiently is a very important business which is why everyone is getting into it. Facebook is presumably eyeing the model as well - how to actually earn money from all that "excellent" hardware. Webscale means doing anything to increase margins in a very low margin world.


Another reg apples vs oranges convoluted comparion article

>>Apple-versus-Google Android openness debate sound even sillier than it is.

There is no Apple vs Google openess debate. Apple doesn't have any openness. Any open source projects it has worked with it has pissed off. Even if google decides to totally close Android tomorrow instead of just delaying a source release until it's ready they will still be more "open" than Apple. Apple has like 3 major product areas right? Desktops, mobiles and selling music etc. Google has mobile, search, enterprise products like google apps, mapping,.. Comparing the whole of Google with the whole of Apple makes no sense as they are not similar companies. Google happens to have pissed on Apple's fireworks by releasing a mobile platform that is cheaper and whatever the hacks at el reg say is more open than iOS but that doesn't mean that Google is looking to take over Apples tiny share of the desktop market.

>>that somehow manages to not be very open. No, that was Google.

Again, this is more that el reg hacks seem to lack the ability to understand A: what the Android platform is (Hint it isn't value add apps like maps), B: understand the word "yet", C: The difference between "open" and "open source".

>>Instead, Facebook announced it was open sourcing its server and data center designs.

Yay.. oh wait, that means nothing to most people because the people that have the money to do anything with these "open source" designs had the money to build perfectly good data centers in the first place. Where is the source to the processor etc? Oh you mean they released PCB files.. and you couldn't get a fab in china to make you up a custom X86 board before facebook saved the world by releasing those?

>>This is big. Really, really big.

Yes, if you say so.

>custom servers.

I have a feeling the software is more important that what shape the generic X86 hardware you use it. Did Facebook deliver a proven software stack for massively scaling any application yesterday?

>>As for Apple, while we occasionally glimpse details of its infrastructure ambitions,

Apple aren't even a player here.

>>much more open about the technology they use.

We use a bunch of X86 machines in a room with cooling. There, I've "open sourced" the plans for a data center.

>>we've seen so many Google employees bolt for Facebook.

I have a hunch facebook offered them more cash.

>it won't hurt Facebook's business and may actually help its recruiting. Bonus.

Yes, that single product they have is going to out do everyone else in ever market sector.. until another service comes along and everyone leaves.

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"OMG, I hate Facebook!"

... seems to be the knee-jerk response. The point here is that Facebook has done an awful lot of work figuring out how to make its datacenters tremendously energy-efficient and has made the fruits of that work public, as opposed to Google, which has not. Presumably, there is now an option for other datacenter customers to ask their providers why a Facebook-style environment cannot be created. The market will not change overnight, but it probably will change, allowing more cost- and energy-efficient datacenters to be created, resulting in non-trivial cost and energy savings for everyone.

Yeah, that's kind of a big deal.


Re: "OMG, I hate Facebook!"

Dear Sir,

you state: "The point here is that Facebook has done an awful lot of work". Could you please specifically state how much work "an awful lot of work" actually is?

you state: "... Facebook ... its datacenters ..." You do *know* that Facebook as yet only has 1 data center, right?

you state: "Presumably, ... datacenter customers ... Facebook-style environment cannot be created" You are aware that 99.9 out of a 100 datacenter customer do not even come close to the needs of Facebook style computational power, I hope. Any ordinary LAMP (untuned!) server can service 10 requests a second with ease and no sweat. That would be 864000 requests a day. Or take 5 requests a second, that still is 432000 requests a day. Much more than many organizations need... Yes, there is the Scale For Peak Usage(TM) (Patent Pending) thingy, which leads many bigger companies to have 1 rack of servers geared towards delivering web contents. Even bigger organizations go for 1 row in a datacenter with racks of servers geared towards delivering web contents. Multiple data centers? Yeah sure: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Rackspace. There, that's the whole list of clients that would have this type of scale. Big deal. These people either go with HP/Dell/IBM or simply build their own kit.

So for the normal market, the forces that are, namely Money and Greenery, do enough to drive down cost, whilst driving up eco-efficiency. HP/Dell/IBM have to play into this, as it simply means that customers who are deciding with which manufacturer to go take these two things into account. Decided customers will, though, state that Dell has just delivered 15% more eco-efficiency by whatever, so please, Leo A (HP), why don't you do a similar thing? or that Dell cramps more core into the same power and cooling usage or whatever. There is always competition. The competition must not be better, though!

So how big a deal is it? Not much. If I need 1 top-efficient server in my room, I'll just go to Oracle/IBM/HP/Dell (not necessarily in that order). Why? I know that it will integrate with the rest of the equipment in my room (like cooling systems). 1 rack of Facebook server(s) and I need to get into sorting out this evaporating water cooling thing they have going. Costs me more... Do I need it? No, not really...



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"You do *know* that Facebook as yet only has 1 data center, right?"

2005 called. They want their factoids back. And their argot. Right?


"This is big. Really, really big." .. oh please be serious!

A company that uses lots and lots of servers goes and specs out exactly what it wants.. and then invites different manufactures to build it.. the “innovation” is letting the manufactures use the same spec to build the same kit for other people.. creating a bigger market to drive competitive costs down. Pretty clever translating “don’t go to court with Facebook if this kit fails for you” into “open source”.. this is the Ingres version of open-source.. open-source because there’s no money in it.

It might not be as innovative as a Compaq Portable I or an IBM compatible circa 1985, but it is a step forward that’ll save money as the server business goes the way of the desktop PC.. even though the design will be redundant in a couple of years.


Perhaps it's a trap?

They release the spec, and instead of a processor it has a slice of battenburg, but the competitors are to hopped up on the open kool aid to notice.

Step 3... Competitors data centres don't work.

Admittedly I haven;t thought this through that much.

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