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Facebook's Open Compute - Good for IT?

Facebook wants to open up IT data center technology with its new OpenCompute.org effort. The goal is to help both Facebook as well as others to build more efficient data centers.

"By releasing Open Compute Project technologies as open hardware, our goal is to develop servers and data centers following the model traditionally associated with open source software projects," Facebook's opencompute.org page states.

While Open Compute might be good for Facebook, will it be good for other IT shops and big IT vendors like HP?

As it turns out, Facebook is a customer of HP's. Glenn Keels, director of marketing, WW service provider and high performance computing business at HP told InternetNews.com that the Open Compute effort will be a benefit to the wider IT industry beyond Facebook.

"We believe that all the innovations that we help our customers like Facebook to deploy, that deliver node, rack and data center level power efficiency – those innovations should not be kept secret and only available to a secret club of extremely large providers," Keels said.

Keels noted that HP has worked together with Facebook to build node and rack level power systems that enable better overall power utilization and efficiency.

"Our multimode architecture that Facebook uses is extremely applicable to both smaller up and coming web companies as well as high-performance computing and general enterprises," Keels said.

By taking an open source approach to the hardware, Open Compute could potentially be a risk to hardware vendors like HP, enabling others to copy their innovations. According to Keels, that's not a big risk for HP.

"We don't see this as a threat, we see this as an innovation enabler," Keels said. "For years, these types of companies could go to contract manufactures and get wherever they want."

Keels added that there are now more innovative concepts being put into an open community. So instead of going to a contract manufacturer, organizations can benefit from increased innovation.

"There is a reason why customers like Facebook do come to HP, for deep innovation and worldwide scale and services," Keels said. "We see this as a multiplier to innovation and definitely not any type of cannibalization."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.