Twitter to Build Data Center to Beach the Fail Whale

Twitter has decided to put the millions it has raised toward building its own data center, according to a blog post published this evening by the social messaging service. The data center, which will be located around Salt Lake City, Utah, should come online in the fall. The company also says it plans to “bring additional Twitter managed data centers online over the next 24 months.”

We wondered if Twitter was going to build its own data center back in April after John Adams, a Twitter engineer, mentioned the proposition on a slide. However, I ultimately thought it wouldn’t, given that it had just signed a deal with NTT America to expand its dedicated hosting space. Apparently the deal with NTT stays, but the demands of keeping up with the 300,000 people who sign up to the service on an average day requires more customization and more control, which is the main reason Twitter gives for this decision. It also wrote:

Second, Twitter will have full control over network and systems configuration, with a much larger footprint in a building designed specifically around our unique power and cooling needs. Twitter will be able to define and manage to a finer grained SLA on the service as we are managing and monitoring at all layers. The data center will house a mixed-vendor environment for servers running open source OS and applications.

Third, having our own data center will give us the flexibility to more quickly make adjustments as our infrastructure needs change.

Indeed, having your own data center is a big milestone for large-scale web services. Facebook announced a data center in January, and despite the lure of the cloud, other webscale operations are keeping some of their servers. Twitter had started out in the cloud, but moved from Amazon’s EC2 to Joyent and then to dedicated NTT hosting, after deciding latency in the cloud was too high. Perhaps Twitter, like Facebook and Google (the granddaddy of webscale infrastructure), has decided that aside from custom code, it needs a custom home for its hardware to ensure a strategic advantage.

Related GigaOM Pro research (sub req’d):

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