Facebook’s Next Hardware Project: Data Storage

Yesterday we heard about the Open Compute Project. Facebook's director of hardware design, Frank Frankovsky, tells us about part two of the social network’s plan to spur suppliers to build the products it needs.

 

Facebook isn’t stopping its hardware-tinkering efforts with the new data centers and servers it unveiled yesterday as part of its Open Compute Project. Next on its list of problems to solve is improved data storage.

The company has hundreds of millions of users, and it's continually launching new features that allow them to create information or upload files. That's putting pressure on its data storage capabilities, Frank Frankovsky, Facebook’s director of hardware design, tells Fast Company.

Take photos for example. Facebook is one of the top photo-sharing services in the world. And last fall, the company started letting users upload and store high-resolution photos. Higher-res pics are higher-quality than lower-resolution ones, but they also take up much more room.

The goals for the data storage project will be the same as those that guided the data center and server innovations, Frankovsky says: to be able to operate reliabily, at a large scale, while increasing the efficiency of energy use and decreasing the cost. And the company will take the same open approach as on the previous projects. Its goal in the end isn’t to become a hardware company but instead to spur innovation in areas critical to the company's core business. 

Meanwhile, the company also plans to continue working on refinements to its data center and server designs. "We’re already working on the next generation of servers," Frankovsky says.

[Image: Flickr user dfulmer]

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com's Silicon Valley reporter. Twitter. Email.

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