Category Archives: Data Center
Social media titan Facebook will soon have a touch of green to go with its trademark blue. The company announced over the weekend that it will open a new European data center in the Irish town of Clonee, not quite 10 miles west of Dublin, Ireland’s capital. The new facility will mark the sixth data center that Facebook operates globally. Construction is slated to start soon, with completion estimated in about two years.
Software developers obviously love open source. They get to collaborate, build on top of work already done by others instead of constantly building from scratch, and add features they need to existing solutions. Innovation often happens faster in open source communities than it does behind closed doors of corporate development departments. While software runs in data centers, data center managers’ job doesn’t usually extend much beyond making sure there is enough IT, power, and cooling capacity to support the application workloads and making sure the systems are configured and secured properly. But it isn’t going to stay this way forever.
The kind of resiliency test Hurricane Sandy forced on Bloomberg’s Manhattan data center is not a test John O’Connor wants to go through again. As the storm surge in New York City in late October 2012 was flooding the streets of lower Manhattan, water level in the facility’s basement reached 18 inches at one point. There were fuel tanks and fuel controls in the basement, all of which could have easily malfunctioned had any more water entered the building, but “mother nature allowed us to win that battle,” O’Connor, manager of data center operations at Bloomberg, recalls. They were able to keep water from rising further; the facility switched to generator power and hummed through the crisis with no incident.
Facebook is building a new data center in Fort Worth, Texas, that will be powered entirely by renewable energy. The company will invest at least US$500 million in the 110-acre site, which is expected to come online late next year. The new location will be the social-networking giant’s fifth such facility, joining existing data centers in Altoona, Iowa; Prineville, Oregon; Forest City, North Carolina; and Luleå, Sweden. It will feature equipment based on the latest in Facebook’s Open Compute Project data-center hardware designs, it said.
Facebook this week revealed plans to build an Open Compute datacentre in a bid to support its growth ambitions in Europe. The proposed location of the new datacentre in County Meath will enable the company to make use of local renewable energy sources and talent, and would be the social media giant’s second in Europe. The first, in Lulea, Sweden, uses 100 per cent hydroelectricity to power its servers.
We’ve written a bit about the infrastructure challenges Facebook faced in providing more than 700 million Look Back videos to its users. But if you want more of the nitty gritty, take a look at the video below of Goranka Bjedov’s talk at the recent Facebook data@scale event. Hosted near Facebook’s newish Cambridge facility, this was the first such event to occur outside California. Obviously, that didn’t happen in this case because the applications side of the house had proposed Look Back to the higher-ups and, as they informed Bjedov, “Mark really liked the idea” — Mark being, of course, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Saying you don’t have to be Facebook to take advantage of open source hardware the social network’s engineers have designed for it, Vantage Data Centers is pitching its Santa Clara V2 facility in the Silicon Valley to customers interested in using the stripped-down, or “vanity-free,” gear to power their applications. Vantage has become a member in the Open Compute Project, the Facebook-led open source hardware design initiative. Other data center providers that support the project include Rackspace and IO, both of whom have built public cloud services using the designs.
Facebook announced the Open Compute Project in 2011 as a way to openly share the designs for its data centers — “to spark a collaborative dialogue … [and] collectively develop the most efficient computing infrastructure possible.” Starting in 2009, three Facebook employees dedicated themselves to custom-designing servers, server racks, power supplies, UPS units, and battery backup systems for the company’s first data center in Prineville, Oregon.
A few years ago, Facebook’s then head of infrastructure, Frank Frankovsky, was instrumental in setting up the Open Compute Project (OCP). The OCP is an industry group, led by Facebook but open to all comers, that aims to share best practice in terms of the design of server, storage and data center hardware. It’s an example of a company like Facebook using its immense scale to deliver benefits to others.
You just may be able to trace the open hardware concept back to 1911, when Henry Ford led a standardization effort that brought about the Automobile Manufacturers Association, which allowed license-free sharing of patents among automakers. That doesn’t mean the big automakers liked each other and didn’t engage in a bit of back stabbing. However, the patent-sharing agreement helped them all by contributing to the eventual commonality in function, safety elements, and size that marked the growth of the auto industry. Think of basics such as the use of four tire-equipped wheels and the accelerator on the right.
Facebook’s Forest City, North Carolina data center isn’t “cool” just because of the outside-air economizer or the colorful local art in the offices. The cool part is the Open Compute Project racks, servers and other equipment — all of which could be in your data center in the future. “Open source is the way to go,” said Keven McCammon, data center manager for the location. “We’ve seen that in the software side of IT — you get more out of it than you individually put in.”
Instagram announced last week that it’s picked up its billions of images stored in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and dumped them into Facebook’s own servers in one of the largest data migration operations ever undertaken. News of the move came from this interview with Facebook infrastructure engineer and Open Compute Foundation program developer Charlie Manese. Manese revealed that the massive migration took about a year to organize and an additional month to carry out. As a result of moving onto Facebook’s infrastructure, Instagram now uses about a third fewer servers, something that significantly reduces its operating costs, Manese notes.
Facebook has migrated Instagram’s colossal collection of images out of Amazon Web Services and into its own bit barns. News of the move comes in this interview with Facebook infrastructure engineer and Open Compute Foundation program development chap Charlie Manese conducted by Australian hyperscale compute appliance startup Infrx . At about the 7:45 mark of the video, Manese says Instagram has moved onto Facebook infrastructure and now uses about a third fewer servers, “obviously reducing our costs from when we had it on the Amazon platform.”
Your Instagram photos aren’t where they used to be. This spring, even as some 200 million people were using Instagram on their smartphones, a small team of engineers moved the photo sharing service from Amazon’s cloud computing service—where it was built in 2010—into a data center operated by Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012. “The users are still in the same car they were in at the beginning of the journey,” says Instagram founder Mike Krieger, “but we’ve swapped out every single part without them noticing.”
Using reference designs for Open Compute servers, Rackspace has developed three custom designs specifically for OnMetal. The company has identified four workloads that stand to benefit the most from the bare-metal cloud service (processing web requests, background processing, RAM-based caching and database servers) and modified Open Compute designs for them. The Open Compute Project is an open source hardware and data center design initiative started and led by Facebook. Open source server designs currently available through OCP were originally developed by Facebook for its own purposes.