Did Facebook finally let its server count slip?

Open compute servers

Facebook has “hundreds of thousands of machines” on its network, according to one of its executives who may have disclosed more than he intended at the GigaOM Structure conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. In an interview with me, Najam Ahmad, director, technical operations, infrastructure, let it slip that the fabric the social networking company is building needs to help it manage “hundreds of thousands of machines.”

This is the closest thing we have to a server count for the social network, which is notoriously secretive about how many boxes it has. I’ve been asking people at the company for a server count since 2008, when I interviewed Mark Zuckerberg at South by Southwest and even as recently as my last phone call with the company in May.

It’s possible that Ahmad could have been referring to more than just servers: it might include, storage, networking switches and so on. But while the comment isn’t exact, it gets me a lot closer to the server count I have so craved.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below.

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