Where is Data Center Innovation developing? Facebook as an example

I’ve bounced around a bunch in many parts of the data center ecosystem.  The big data center operators, the construction companies, the engineering companies, the outsourced maintenance companies, the data center equipment companies, the IT equipment companies, and the software companies.

So, where is the innovation coming from?

Is it coming from the people who design and build data centers?

Is it coming from the equipment vendors?

Or is it coming from the customers who have gotten tired of the way the data centers have been designed and built?

Data centers are high profit margin buildings compared to the rest of the construction industry.  Why?  Because they are so complex and feature creep is prevalent.  And with this complexity comes big budgets and  prestige to be in charge of the data center construction so territorial battles will exist as to who is responsible for the construction.  The majority of which are done by real estate and facilities department in companies.

But, you look at the big data center operators and the standard is to have the data center construction be integrated with the data center operations team.  If you could see the organizations in Microsoft, Google, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo you would find the data center construction is integrated mainly with data center operations, not real estate and facilities.

Why is this important because as much as real estate/construction based people want to own the job, they have almost no idea how their data center designs interact with IT services.  They barely know the IT hardware let alone the SW running to provide customers services.  What sane person puts a group of people responsible for design and construction of commercial office space for people in charge of the place to host information services?  Well almost everyone does except the enlightened companies.

As an example of data center innovation coming from the IT group DataCenterKnowledge references Facebook’s efficiency of the data center.

Designed for Efficiency
The new design foregoes traditional uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and power distribution units (PDUs) and adds a 12 volt battery to each server power supply. This approach was pioneered by Google, which last year revealed a custom server thatintegrates a 12 volt battery, which the company cited this design as a key factor in the exceptional energy efficiency data for its data centers.

Facebook will most likely shortly announce its data center in Prineville, OR.

Facebook to Build Its Own Data Centers

January 20th, 2010 : Rich Miller

A look at the fully-packed racks inside a Facebook data center facility.

A look at the fully-packed racks inside a Facebook data center facility.

Facebook has decided to begin building its own data centers, and may announce its first facility as soon as tomorrow. The fast-growing social network has previously leased server space from wholesale data center providers, but has grown to the point where the economics favor a shift to a custom-built infrastructure.

“Facebook is always looking at ways to scale our infrastructure and better serve our users,” said Facebook spokesperson Kathleen Loughlin said last week. “It should come as no surprise that, at some point, building a customized data center will be the most efficient and cost effective way to to do this. However, we have nothing further to announce at this time.”

One of the data center engineers at Facebook is ex-google, Amir Michael.

Amir Michael Amir is a 2nd degree contact

Hardware and Data Center Engineer at Facebook

San Francisco Bay Area
Computer Hardware
  • Hardware and Datacenter Engineer at Facebook

    Hardware Engineer
    Google Inc., Mountain View CA,
    Responsible for data center electronics including: cooling systems, electrical distribution, and monitoring.
    Wrote specifications and requirements in cooperation with mechanical engineers for various data center
    control projects. Managed vendors and coordinated with manufacturing engineers and commodity
    management teams to deploy finished products.
    Embedded power measurement device for servers. Designed electrical schematics, printed circuit
    boards, and wrote the software. Hired and managed two interns to advance project development. The
    project resulted in the savings of several million of dollars in energy costs.

What is causing more change/innovation in the industry the real estate/construction data center consortium or guys like Amir at Facebook networking with the other data center innovators at Google, eBay, and Yahoo in the bay area?