In addition to being the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world, Alibaba Group has also been an innovator in data center design, seeking methods to improve their energy efficiency. Hoping to see these positive strides made around the world, Alibaba will share its data center developments with the Open Compute Project (OCP).
“We look forward to collaborating with OCP and its members around the world to drive the development and adoption of further technological breakthroughs intended to deliver an even greater impact for the industry, and we already have plans to contribute our innovations to OCP,” says Shanyuan Gao, Chief Architect of Alibaba Infrastructure Services.
OCP was initiated in 2011 by Facebook with the goal of applying open source hardware and boosting innovation for data centers. Alibaba has joined as a Platinum member.
“We now have a hyperscale company from Asia bringing best practices and thought leadership from the massive scale of their e-commerce marketplaces and cloud computing infrastructure, while Alibaba Group extends its involvement in open standards already being adopted throughout the world,” says Bill Carter, Chief Technology Officer for the OCP Foundation.
Alibaba Cloud, the organization’s cloud computing arm, develops cloud computing and data management platforms and provides cloud computing services for Alibaba Group’s e-commerce participants, including sellers, customers and businesses.
“Today, there are more than 200 OCP members, and we’ve created a shared vision and venue to design for workloads of the future. We are thrilled Alibaba Group is bringing their expertise to OCP and contributing to this strong global community,” says Jason Taylor, Open Compute Project Chairman of the Board.
Innovations for Cooling
Alibaba’s focus has been on developing green data center technology with the ultimate goal of reducing energy usage in data centers and promoting the adoption of environmentally friendly data centers.
One such development makes use of an immersed, liquid-cooling server solution that would not require operators to use traditional air-cooling equipment. This coolant absorbs heat from the data center, turns it into gas, then liquefies it back into the main cabinet for reuse. Data centers that use this cooling process can cut back on energy consumption significantly and reduce operation costs by up to 20%.
Moreover, this immersion cooling does not require air conditioning or other large HVAC equipment and can be easily deployed. In addition to energy savings, it can provide space savings of up to 75%. The cooling process also improves computing density, as its Power Usage Efficiency reaches as low as 1.0.
The company’s green practices for data centers also include the first data center in China that uses water-cooling technology. Using the stable temperature of lake water, it allows the data center to benefit from free cooling for roughly 90% of its operating time. This data center has driven down energy consumption by 80% compared to those with mechanical cooling. When it was built in 2015, it was one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world.
Alibaba’s technology is in the production phase and will initially be implemented with Alibaba Cloud data centers before it is widely available.