Ken Patchett, who manages a Facebook data centre in Prineville, Oregon, USA, has criticised the likes of Google for trying to gain a competitive advantage by keeping the designs of their data centres under wraps. According to the magazine Wired, Patchett left Google to join Facebook last year; whilst at Google, he supervised the company’s data centre campus at The Dalles, Oregon.
Patchett said that on joining Google he was made to sign an agreement that would prevent him from sharing any details about Google’s data centre design for at least a year after leaving the organisation. However, in Patchett’s view, such secrecy “doesn’t make sense at all” – because there is no competitive advantage to a company who keeps their data centre design secret.
Speaking to Wired, Patchett explained, “How servers work has nothing to do with the way your software works and the competitive advantage comes from manipulating your software.”
Interesting, in April Facebook launched the Open Compute Project, in order to share the custom-engineered design of its Prineville data centre. In an environmentally positive move, the centre features rows of energy efficient machines which cool the facility with air from the outside instead of electricity-powered water chillers. The specs and CAD files for the data centre’s servers, power suppliers and building design are available on its blog.
Whilst your company may not have details of data centres to share, Patchett raises an interesting question of the value of information and the way in which it should be shared. When blogging for business, you need to offer your reader interesting, engaging content that teaches them something new – and that often means sharing information that you might see as ‘secret’ or ‘too valuable’. However, by making this type of content available, you’ll provide your audience with innovative information that they may not have seen before.
This can help to establish you as a though leader in your industry, and makes your readers much more likely to return and see what else you have to say.
Whilst we’re not suggesting that you give away your entire business strategy, there’s nothing wrong with sharing information that you’ve found useful along the way – in fact, you may find that people return the favour and you learn something new too!