Facebook Grabs for Greener Data Centers

facebook-logo-greenFacebook’s 300 million users, logging 8 billion minutes per day on the site, leave the social network with a massive — and growing — appetite for data center real estate, and energy bills to match. According to Richard Miller at Data Center Knowledge, Facebook has just leased more data center space at Fortune Data Centers’ new facility in San Jose, Calif., bringing the number of leases signed in 2009 to four, including deals with Digital Realty Trust and DuPont Fabros. Specifics are shrouded in secrecy, but Facebook did let slip that the facility provides somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 MW of power to the new servers and IT infrastructure that will help Facebook cope with the site’s growth.

Energy efficiency will be key to Facebook’s expansion plans, allowing it to stuff more computing capacity into tighter confines and maximize available power, thereby reducing cost. Fortune’s data center makes use of hot/cold air containment, water-side economizers and environmental monitoring, features that analyst Katherine Austin identifies as hallmarks of efficient, money-saving computing centers in her Green Data Center Design Strategies report on GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

gigaompro-green-it-reportBeyond energy efficiency, all four of the leases that Facebook has signed this year are at facilities that Miller reports are on track to achieve LEED Gold status. But LEED certification doesn’t necessarily translate into an energy-efficient data center, since the point system includes more rewards for green design elements that affect workers (widespread recycling, ample lighting), than affect energy use for data centers’ power distribution and cooling equipment.

Green credentials are nice and all, but cost is a key consideration for Facebook. Data center “landlords” like Fortune allow firms to have their new server racks populated and fully operational in months versus the year or two it takes to complete new construction — a strategy that helps Facebook keep pace with the growing demands on its IT resources, as Miller notes. For Fortune Data Centers, landing a high profile tenant like Facebook is a feather in its cap and a way to help lure similar, eco-minded businesses.