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Installing a Data Center for Facebook

Information Technology | Network Infrastructure Staffing

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Facebook relies on TEKsystems to support the installation and maintenance of its first ever Greenfield data center.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Facebook is a social networking service and website. The world’s most popular social networking service, Facebook currently has over 845 million active users and employs over 2,000 people. Their overall revenue was approximately $2 billion in 2011, driven by banner ads, referral marketing and social games. This is TEKsystems’ first engagement supporting Facebook.

Facebook has been one of the main drivers behind the recent boom in social media growth. Given the virtual nature of its business, the client leans heavily on its data centers as the core of its operations. The increasing growth in registered Facebook users also represented an increasing burden on those data centers. Originally, Facebook ran data operations from two separate, co-located facilities in California and Virginia. These facilities were older and running on antiquated technology. Given their growth projections, client leadership decided to build a 300,000 square foot data center from scratch in Oregon to improve current operations as well as serve as a platform to absorb Facebook’s future storage and processing needs.
Intel Xeon 5500/5600 Motherboards, “Freedom Servers” (proprietary to Facebook), and HP Servers

Given estimated employee growth of 370 percent to 9,400 by 2017 and a registered user base of over one billion by 2012, it was obvious to the client that the data storage and processing capabilities of their current infrastructure could not scale to projected needs.

Facebook had struggled to find qualified, well-screened candidates from their current suppliers in California and Virginia. Given their directive to run the new data center in Oregon without internal staff, at a remote location three hours from Portland, and the challenges they were already facing in markets with larger pools of IT professionals, the client recognized hey required a new partner for this endeavor.

TEKsystems was chosen by Facebook to support this critical endeavor because of our hiring and management expertise, our ability to find, vet and place local top-quality talent rapidly, and our reputation as leaders in the staffing industry. Facebook has over 80,000 servers in this facility; they required TEKsystems to provide for post-installation server remediation.

TEKsystems worked closely with the Prineville, Ore. data center leadership to understand the client’s staffing objectives and expectations. We then leveraged our local market expertise to find and qualify the personnel required. In total, we placed 31 consultants on site. Specifically, our work for Facebook included projects like:

  • Hardware replacement of approximately 5,000 servers in one week (cooling unit swap out within the server and heat transfer plate); required 13 server technicians.
  • Line card replacement of Line Cards on 3,000+ servers in approximately one week. This required 12 technicians.
  • Server remediation of 40,000 servers, including monitoring and responding to proprietary tracking software, diagnosing server failures and providing timely remediation and response. This involved 50+ daily trouble tickets per day and required resolution in less than 24 hours unless replacement parts were not available. This required four server technicians.
Our client cited several key successes that resulted from our engagement with them: 

Consolidation: The new state-of-the-art facility provides Facebook with the ability to consolidate its data center operations and potentially phase out its Virginia and California facilities entirely.

Leveraging new technology: Facebook implemented several new technologies in the design and operation of the Pineville, Ore. facility, among them energy-efficient server designs, specialized server capacity optimization software as well as a low-energy evaporative cooling system, enabling Facebook to take advantage of central Oregon’s desert climate to eliminate the need for traditional air conditioners. Overall, the data center uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s existing facilities.

Cost minimization: By leveraging its local market expertise, TEKsystems was able to help Facebook minimize its staffing costs while still benefit from highly qualified, just-in-time resources. Our ability to leverage the local IT talent saved Facebook approximately $105,000 on labor resources over six months of ongoing projects. 

Due to the success of our initial project, Facebook awarded us several follow-on initiatives which are currently running on time and on budget.

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