Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exclusive Inside Look At Facebook's Data Centers in Oregon: 'With the Internet, Place No Longer Matters'. 800 Million Users Live Part Time Here, Housed in Network Servers & Data Stream Cities, Sprawling With Activity at All Hours of the Social Day. The Secret Facebook Layer Has Been Found.

""PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Data centers arrived in Oregon five years ago, cloaked in mystery. There's no hiding them now. From Umatilla to Prineville to Hillsboro, server farms are sprouting across the state. They are the physical manifestations of the cloud that hosts your free Gmail, movie streams and Facebook ..."" 

  • - Prineville has become Facebook's template as it shifts its data from leased facilities to company-owned centers deployed around the globe.
  • - Facebook imagined a variety of potential hazards, from central Oregon wildfires to volcanoes in the Cascades.

""Facebook built its data center in Prineville because it’s on the high desert. Patchett calls it “the Tibet of North America.” The town sits on a plateau about 2,800 feet above sea level, in the “rain shadow” of the Cascade Mountains, so the air is both cool and dry. Rather than use power-hungry water chillers to cool its servers, Patchett and company can pull the outside air into the facility and condition it as needed. If the air is too cold for the servers, they can heat it up — using hot air that has already come off the servers themselves — and if the outside air is too hot, they can cool it down with evaporated water.

In the summer, Prineville temperatures may reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but then they drop back down to the 40s in the evenings. Eric Klann, Prineville’s city engineer, whose family goes back six generations in central Oregon, says Facebook treats its data center much like the locals treat their homes. “Us country hicks have been doing this a long time,” says Klann, with tongue in cheek. “You open up your windows at night and shut them during the day.”

The added twist is that Facebook can also cool the air during those hot summer days.""

""All this is done in the data center’s penthouse — a space the size of an aircraft carrier, split into seven separate rooms. One room filters the air. Another mixes in hot air pumped up from the server room below. A third cools the air with atomized water. And so on. With the spinning fans and the neverending rush of air, the penthouse is vaguely reminiscent of the room with the “fizzy lifting drinks” in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, where Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe float to the ceiling of Wonka’s funhouse. It’s an analogy Patchett is only too happy to encourage.

You might say that Facebook has applied the Willy Wonka ethos to data center design, rethinking even the smallest aspects of traditional facilities and building new gear from scratch where necessary. “It’s the small things that really matter,” Patchett says. The facility uses found water to run its toilets. An Ethernet-based lighting system automatically turns lights on and off as employees enter and leave areas of the data center. And the company has gone so far as to design its own servers.""

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