The Dell-Facebook Cloud Dissipates

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Last week we picked up on a report of what appeared to be a significant pending announcement that Facebook and Dell are “working together on a project that will represent ‘the next generation of cloud computing,’” noting that although there’s “lots of hype around cloud projects, this is one to watch.”

Or not. Execs from Facebook and Salesforce made an appearance at a Dell media event in San Francisco Tuesday, but there were no new partnerships or services announced. Facebook VP of technical operations Jonathan Heiliger spoke about the company’s operations, and commended Dell for being a “thought leader in large-scale infrastructure” and the most aggressive of the major server vendors in offering stripped-down cloud servers. We had assumed that the chumminess between Dell and Facebook was bad news for Rackable (RACK), which counts Facebook as its fourth-largest customer. But Heiliger made it clear that his appearance didn’t signify that Facebook necessarily favored Dell, and made a point of acknowledging other server makers, including Rackable. 

Heiliger has been broadly critical of server vendors for their focus on enterprise servers as cloud builders have emerged as a bigger chunk of the server market. The Wall Street Journal summarized Heiliger’s comments as he elaborated on this point Tuesday:

The social networking company, which has more than 10,000 servers from Dell and other providers, is tired of all the high-cost features companies pack into servers – on a slide, he pointed to extra USB ports and unnecessary graphics capabilities as examples. Most server makers are selling what, in automobile terms, would be the equivalent of a Lexus “at a Toyota price,” he said. What Facebook wants “is the Scion product at the Scion price.” He said Dell seems to be ahead of other server makers in selling inexpensive servers that reduce power and cooling requirement.

See additional coverage from Dan Farber, Om Malik and a video from Steve Gillmor at TechCrunch IT.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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