Facebook doubles Oregon datacentre capacity

The expansion in capacity at its Prineville datacentre will let the social-networking company meet demand from a rise in users and new projects such as Outlook Social Connector

Facebook is doubling the size of its first wholly-owned and designed datacentre in Oregon to help the social-networking provider scale up to meet increased traffic to the site as it opens APIs and extends social functionality beyond its main website.

The company is in the process of building a 147,000-square-foot facility in Prineville. On Saturday, it said that the datacentre shell, which houses the servers, will be expanded by 160,000 square feet.

"To meet the needs of our growing business, we have decided to go ahead with the second phase of the project, which was an option we put in place when we broke ground earlier this year," Tom Furlong, the director of site operations for Facebook, said in an announcement on the social-networking site.

In the past, Facebook has leased entire datacentres, but this new project marks the first time that Facebook has been involved in a project from the ground up. Facebook's datacentres support the massive MySQL databases that allow the site to store, modify and change its data. Subscriber numbers are growing at the business, which went from 300 million users in September 2009 to 500 million in July. Facebook has said it has 250 million users logging into the site every day and that 30 billion individual pieces of content are shared each month on the site.

In addition, Facebook is branching out into services like Outlook Social Connector and Open Graph, which are likely to intensify traffic from the enterprise and other websites. These factors mean that Facebook will be under pressure to maintain site speed and accessibility.

The new datacentre should help guarantee uptime, increase the total available amount of storage and up redundancy. In addition, it should also give Facebook the ability, if it wants, to have complete control over how the shell of the facility supports the internal network — an approach adopted by Google.

The initial datacentre shell is scheduled to go into operation in the first quarter of 2011, with total construction set to be completed by early 2012.

When the datacentre was announced in January, Facebook set a goal of attaining a power-usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.15, which means the company wants its electrical losses and cooling overheads to total no more than 10 percent of total power outlay. By comparison, Google's latest averaged-out figures for the PUE of its datacentres is 1.18.

Facebook plans to achieve this PUE using evaporative cooling systems, cooling using outside air and a proprietary uninterruptible power supply technology that it said can reduce electricity usage by up to 12 percent.

Despite the expansion in datacentre capacity, Facebook will keep the number of technical jobs at the site at the 35 announced in January.


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