We have come a long way from our roots in a Harvard dorm room, when Facebook was only available at some colleges and run on a single server. Now with more than 350 million people worldwide and our service and business continuing to grow, we must constantly scale our technical infrastructure to meet the demand and deliver you a fast, reliable experience. An important step along the way is to build a custom data center so that we can design it to meet our unique needs.
Today, we broke ground on our first custom data center in Prineville, Ore.,... during a ceremony with local officials. We are designing a facility that will be highly efficient and cost-effective for our operations today and into the future.
When Facebook first began with a small group of people using it and no photos or videos to display, the entire service could run on a single server. However, as the site expanded to different colleges around the U.S., we needed to add more servers and data center capacity to keep up with the increasing number of people who were joining every day.
Initially, as most Internet startups do, we leased data center space alongside other companies in the same building. As our user base continued to grow and we developed Facebook into a much richer service, we reached the point where it was more efficient to lease entire buildings on our own. We are now ready to build our own.
What is a Data Center?
It is important to understand what a data center is and how it impacts your Facebook experience. 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.
When you create a profile on Facebook, the information you share is captured in servers located in a data center. So when you update your status, post and comment on photos or videos or otherwise communicate with friends, these servers receive your actions, compute them, and then act quickly so that you see your actions completed in seconds.
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.
Our new data center is another example of our investment to meet the needs of the growing number of people using Facebook and to deliver richer and more innovative services to you. The new data center will help us by adding more computing and storage capacity, which we expect to help us deliver a faster, more reliable experience worldwide. This is just one step along the way in building a business for the long term and dedicating resources to scale our site to support our users, developers and advertisers.
Jonathan, Facebook's vice president of technical operations, is always expanding behind-the-scenes infrastructure.