As Facebook grows, so do its data center needs

I often get asked the question of what Facebook will do with the ginormous amount of money it will raise as part of its forthcoming initial public offering that will value the company in excess of $100 billion? I don’t know how they will put all of it to use, but a nice piece of it will go towards maintaining and building out is backend infrastructure. The company on Thursday announced that its second data center in Forest City, N.C., is now serving live user traffic.

Facebook shared some facts about the new data center:

  • It took 16 months to build the facility. A second building that will mirror the first building is under development and will finish in 2012.
  • It took 1.2 million hours from 2,000 people to get it done.
  • It is the first major deployment of Open Compute Project web servers that are using Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors.
  • Facebook believes that Forest City, like its first data center in Prineville, Ore., will be one of most energy-efficient and will have a projected power utilization effectiveness (PUE) measurement for the entire facility of 1.06 to 1.08. (Related: Whose data centers are more efficient: Google’s or Facebook’s?)
  • The new facility is using the Open Compute Project’s outdoor-air cooling designs. (Read: Facebook open sources its servers and data centers.)

In addition, there are two more facts about the data center that have not been officially released by the Mountain View, Calif.-based social network.

  • Facebook is going to employ 60 people in the data center, according to local news channel, ABC 13.
  • According to some estimates the data center has cost the company about $450 million.

As Facebook becomes a bigger part of the Internet fabric, thanks to its growing reach via Facebook Connect, the company needs an unprecedented infrastructure to keep up with the growth. Facebook first made plans of its data center expansion public in 2010. Since then it has open two data centers including the Forest City facility. Facebook is building another data center in Lulea, North Sweden as well. Last year, CEO Mark Zuckeberg said:

“We’re definitely on this trend now where it makes sense for us given the scale of usage and the information flowing through the network where we’re probably going to be building our own data centers, rather than leasing,”