Facebook’s new datacenter takes snap-together model approach

For construction of its datacenters, Facebook's pre-built approach combines modular and pre-assembled construction ideas.
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

Back when hobby shops were found in every town in America, it was possible to pick up a kit that would let you build a replica of your favorite airplane, boat, or car. These kits came in varying levels of complexity, with the most basic being kits containing components that were simple snap-together designs which didn’t require special skills or familiarity with the end result. To a certain extent, this is the approach that Facebook is taking with their new datacenter, using its rapid deployment data center (RDDC) model.

The RDDC model comes across as an approach that combines strategies from many industries, ranging from the state-of-the-art modular datacenter to the well-established practices found in the pre-manufactured housing market. The deployment of pre-manufactured assemblies to be put together on site will provide two immediate benefits: standardization across datacenter deployments in terms or construction and architecture, and speed of deployment.

Once a site has been prepared, this pre-built approach, combining modular and pre-assembled construction ideas, means that the building blocks can be put together in an appropriate way for the location and usage plan for the facility, without the need to start the design from scratch each time.

This idea fits in well with the goals of the Open Compute Project as can be seen in these presentations from this year’s OCP Summit:


This standardization of datacenter construction assemblies mirrors the approach that Facebook is promoting with their Open Compute Project for datacenter hardware.  In his OCP blog dated March 7, Facebook’s Marco Magarelli gives a detailed description of its plans for modular assemblies and pre-constructed components, giving credit to the Ikea-designed flatpack furniture as one of the inspirations for the project.

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