Every year, computing giants including Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), andCisco Systems (CSCO) sell north of $100 billion in hardware. That’s the total for the basic iron—servers, storage, and networking products. Add in specialized security, data analytics systems, and related software, and the figure gets much, much larger. So you can understand the concern these companies must feel as they watchFacebook (FB) publish more efficient equipment designs that directly threaten their business. For free.
The Dells and HPs of the world exist to sell and configure data-management gear to companies, or rent it out through cloud services. Facebook’s decision to publish its data center designs for anyone to copy could embolden others to bypass U.S. tech players and use low-cost vendors in Asia to supply and bolt together the systems they need.
Instead of buying server racks from the usual suspects, Facebook designs its own systems and outsources the manufacturing work. In April 2011, the social networking company began publishing its hardware blueprints as part of its so-called Open Compute Project, which lets other companies piggyback on the work of its engineers.