Facebook’s data-center standards project adds Microsoft and IBM

Bloomberg NewsJanuary 30, 2014 

SAN FRANCISCO — The Open Compute Project, the industry group created by Facebook to spur development of more efficient computers to manage and store data online, is gaining more allies.

Microsoft and IBM said Tuesday that they’re joining the alliance, which includes Advanced Micro Devices, Seagate Technology and about 150 other members. Microsoft said it seeks to lower its spending on equipment and make it easier for customers to adopt its Azure and other online services.

As more individuals and businesses use the Internet to store, analyze and share information, companies such as Apple and Google have built large data centers across the globe to handle the traffic. While Open Compute could expand markets by making servers more affordable and easier to customize, that equipment would be far less profitable for hardware suppliers such as Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Still, open standards are critical for speedier development and collaboration, according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer. “From our perspective, it was much better to collaborate with the community and blow past what anyone else has done,” Zuckerberg said at an Open Compute conference Tuesday in San Jose, Calif. “At this point, I think we’re quite far ahead.”

Zuckerberg said the social-networking company saved $1.2 billion by using Open Compute-based equipment instead of proprietary products from established makers of computers, storage equipment and networking switches. Since the hardware is more energy efficient, Facebook was able to conserve the equivalent annual energy usage of 40,000 homes, he said.

Russian Internet company Yandex and cloud-storage provider Box.net are also joining, Open Compute said. Microsoft, which has more than a million computers running in its data centers, said it will share its server designs.

“We want to drive innovation,” Bill Laing, Microsoft’s vice president of the cloud division, said at the conference. “We not only build software to run in our data centers, but we also license software to our customers and partners so they can run data centers.”

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