Few parts of the world house data centres that require air conditioning, and operators need to "push the envelope a little harder" to stop using it. This is the view fo Frank Frankovsky, vice president of hardware design and supply chain at Facebook, and also a co-founder of the company's Open Compute Project.
"There's very few parts of the world that require you to run air conditioning," said Frankovsky.
"Large data centre operators typically follow Ashrae standards, and so they're afraid to push those boundaries, [but] computing equipment is pretty resilient to heat - it's actually even pretty resilient to humidity, and even condensation, believe it or not."
Frankovsky asserted that Facebook infrastructure experts "don't believe" that fresh air-only cooling reduces the lifespan of server hardware.
Frankovsky offered other examples of processes that have been worked into the Open Compute Project, a two-year long project begun by Facebook with the aim of introducing an open source knowledge base to provide general guidelines in building data centre and server infrastructures.
Frankovsky explained how even if "air conditioning isn't a risk they're willing to take", electrical efficiency is another key - yet overlooked - part of cost-saving when designing data centre infrastructure.
"Even if they have air conditioning on, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems would be one easy way," he said.
"Eliminate room-wide UPS - it costs about $2 a block. The Open Compute battery cabinets that we source are 25 cents a block. But they deliver the same amount of backup power functionality, but this is also far more efficient because they're not doing AC-DC conversion."
However, Frankovsky admitted that, despite standards that are now being contributed to by the likes of Intel, ARM, Dell and HP, "every business has to make its own decisions from a risk perspective".
Frankovsky also admitted to an amount of blue sky thinking from the Open Compute team, as the reality of data centres is that they can't be rebuilt or refitted on a whim.
"Something like a data centre is typically a 20-year asset - you typically don't go back and redesign it," he acknowledged.
However, Frankovsky was adamant that the Open Compute Project would become a much-imitated, crucial shared-practice resource as large vendor cloud computing dominance is "here to stay".
"Which is why I'm so bullish about how well [Open Compute] is going to do, as the large operators are the early adopters."