Almost a year ago, I blogged about their Open Compute Project and best practices that hopefully will lead to greater IT innovation and thus growth for Facebook and companies like Facebook operating in the cloud. Based on what I have been hearing from customers, and reading from fellow tech bloggers and industry groups, it has been viewed as a positive to the industry and the cloud movement at large.
Well, they are at it again. A Wired post by Cade Metz titled “Facebook Shakes Hardware World With Own Storage Gear” discusses how FB is not just stopping at compute. They have moved into the storage realm and are working on a storage platform that mimics what they have done with servers. Basically, strip them down to the “bare essentials, making them easier to repair and less expensive” and make them “vanity free” is what Frank Frankovsky, the man who oversees hardware design at Facebook said, according the the Wired post.
My favorite quote from Frank: “The really valuable part of storage is the disk drive itself and the software that controls how the data gets distributed to and recovered from those drives. We want to eliminate any ancillary components around the drive — and make it more serviceable.”
Sounds to me like it’s all about the disk drive, the file system, and perhaps auto-tiering software. So what’s to be eliminated? RAID controllers? PCIe daughterboards? We’ll see…
No doubt that enterprise storage is a complex solution to manage, especially in large data centers. In fact, some studies have said that upwards of 80% of the costs of IT is in the maintenance and service of the IT infrastructure, and storage plays a huge part. Hence, the rise of infrastructure and platform-as-a-service solutions from Amazon and Rackspace to name two.
The question being, how will FB simplify storage in the data center, and will it resonate as much as their Open Compute Project has with cloud providers? What about its impact on the storage solution OEMs’ offerings? Now, don’t get me wrong, whatever Facebook comes up with will not serve as a direct replacement to how things are done in every data center across the world, but it will change how we think and approach data center design.
My 5 takeaways from Facebook’s Open Compute Program were around
- Influence – The shift of power from IT provider to IT user.
- Simplicity – Design for service-ability
- Customization – The rise of white-box server builders.
- Competition – No branding will force hardware providers to differentiate in other ways.
- Alliances – With more focus on components, Intel, Seagate, and others may join forces.
Sounds like their storage platform may have the same impact. Facebook is not alone here. Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. all design their own data centers and the hardware they use (for the most part). Facebook just happens to be a lot more “open” about it. It’s just another example of perhaps a shift in technology leadership from the traditional technology manufacturer to the new age technology user. In this case, media giant, I mean tech giant Facebook.
So, what is Facebook to you? Tech company, media company, or something entirely different?