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Open Compute Project facilitates air conditioning-free server rooms

Open Compute Project hardware may obviate the need for room-wide air conditioning.

The Open Compute Project has given enterprises and data center operators a major boost in terms of hardware efficiency and flexibility. With more freedom to optimize cloud infrastructure for storage speed, power efficiency and scalability, participating organizations have produced servers and installations that require less maintenance and are built for the long term.

Writing for Data Center Knowledge, AMD vice president Young-Sae Song highlighted the multifaceted benefits of complying with Open Compute Project standards. On the hardware side, enterprises can customize an old chassis with a new motherboard and create a dependable two-socket server that fits particular use cases. Open hardware in turn permits the usage of open source server management software, which obviate the need to become familiar with an array of proprietary tools from different vendors.

When Facebook initiated the Open Compute Project, it hoped to contribute to affordable yet scalable cloud storage for companies that handle considerable data volumes. One way it reduced  expenditures was by largely eliminating the costs related to server cooling and dramatically reducing expenditures on uninterruptable power supplies.

Facebook vice president Frank Frankovsky recently observed that most server rooms do not require room-wide air conditioning, either because servers can withstand high temperatures or because the facility is located in a climate that makes open air cooling feasible. According to V3's Daniel Robinson, Facebook claims that it has improved energy efficiency by 38 percent as a result of cooling practices made possible by the Open Compute Project.

In addition to air cooling, Frankovsky advised server managers to use inexpensive Open Compute Project battery cabinets rather than room-wide UPS. Separating cold and hot aisles may be a way to further trim costs.

"Something like a data center is typically a 20-year asset – you typically do not go back and redesign it," said Frankovsky. "I'm so bullish about how well [Open Compute] is going to do, as the large operators are the early adopters."