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Ultra-green Europeans scorn Facebook's data centre blueprint

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Facebook’s Open Compute Project has found little overt support in Europe to date, the firm’s data centre boss said today, in part because of those crazy continentals’ obsession with carbon neutrality over efficiency.

Tom Furlong, Facebook’s veep of site operations, told the Datacenter Dynamics Conference in London that the social borg’s effort to define an open data centre standard, including whitebox components, software stack and pretty much everything else, had picked up plenty of support in the US, and, increasingly, worldwide as well.

Since the project was launched in 2011, OCP groups had started spontaneously in Japan and Korea, he said, and the firm was looking to support them: “When it started it was just us… it has grown beyond our wildest dreams.”

However, he added, “We still don’t see anything in Europe that’s coalescing around OCP.”

Asked by The Register whether this was a problem or a puzzle for Facebook he said: “We would love to see more people support it.”

As to whether there was something intrinsic to the European mindset that stopped data centre operators and/or vendors jumping into bed with Facebook, he said, "I don’t think so."

But, he added, Europe (as much as you can talk about a single Europe) was very focused on carbon neutrality. Facebook, and by extension OCP, is "more into the efficiency side of the house".

He continued, “one of the best ways” to move towards carbon neutrality was to increase the efficiency of the data centre.

Efficiency was certainly at the core of Furlong’s presentation, with the firm looking to increase the utilisation of its servers to forestall unnecessary capex. In case you’re wondering, the site’s peak load time was 11am Pacific, and its peak day was Monday.

Typically its front-end servers run at 60 to 70 per cent utilisation. However, during the leap-second bug crisis last year, he said, that jumped up to 100 per cent. Rather than prompting the question “do we need more servers”, he said the question raised was whether we have too many.

To date, most announcements from OCP have been about its server and networking blueprints. However, Furlong also dropped some hints about the Open Computer Project’s Datacenter Infrastructure Management strategy. This had been in development for 18 months, he said, and it would talk about it at the next Open Computer Summit, which is scheduled for early next year. ®

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