Facebook Breaks Ground On New Data Center

Facebook is no longer an Internet startup that’s ran from a dorm room in Harvard.  The site has grown just a little bit (ha, ha…) since those days to where it now has well over 350 million users and is contending for #1 most visited site in the world.  So because of this growth, Facebook now sees that it’s time to build their own data center to handle all this traffic.

Jonathan Heiliger, the vice president of technical operations at Facebook released this information yesterday in a blog post.  And Heiliger first set out to explain what a data center is:

“A data center is a central location that houses thousands of computer servers, which are networked together and linked to the outside world through fiber optic cables. Think of a data center as essentially one very large computer that contains the collective computing infrastructure to make web properties, like Facebook, work.”

From there, Heiliger went on to explain that the data center will be made up of advanced energy saving technologies:

Energy-Efficient Technologies
Along with making sure Facebook operates quickly for you, we wanted to minimize the environmental impact of our new facility and its energy costs. To best achieve those goals, we will use several energy-efficiency technologies, including:

  • Evaporative cooling system: This system evaporates water to cool the incoming air, as opposed to traditional chiller systems that require more energy intensive equipment. This process is highly energy efficient and minimizes water consumption by using outside air.
  • Airside economizer: The facility will be cooled by simply bringing in colder air from the outside. This feature will operate for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the year. The remainder of the year requires the use of the evaporative cooling system to meet temperature and humidity requirements.
  • Re-use of server heat: A portion of the excess heat created by the computer servers will be captured and used to heat office space in the facility during the colder months.
  • Proprietary Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology: All data centers must have an uninterruptible power supply to continuously provide power to servers. The Prineville data center will use a new, patent-pending UPS system that reduces electricity usage by as much as 12 percent.

Initially, when Facebook first launched in a dorm room in Harvard, the site was run on just one server.  But as the site grew, more server space was needed.  So from there, Facebook started renting out server space from third parties – much like all Internet startups.  And by renting server space, Facebook started sharing servers with other businesses.

From there, however, Facebook needed to rent out an entire warehouse just for itself to handle all the traffic and web applications that the site was demanding.

Well now, with over 350 million users and growing, Facebook sees that it’s time to build their own data center.  The facility will be located in Prineville, Oregon.  Facebook broke ground yesterday (Thursday) with a ceremony made up of both local officials and Facebook officials.