Digg Will Expand Its Data Centers

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Digg will use some the $28 million in funding it announced last week to expand its data center infrastructure, according to company officials. The fast-growing social media site is optimizing its current infrastructure, but will soon need additional data center space.

“We currently have some room to grow but we’ll be expanding to a larger space in the coming months to fit the new growing infrastructure,” said Scott Baker, Digg’s VP of Operations. “We are always expanding our infrastructure to meet the demands of higher traffic and new features that we’re always developing.”

The company’s short-term goal is to refine its data center architecture to serve content from two locations, rather than just one. “We are currently in two data centers set up in an active/passive configuration for disaster recovery purposes,” said Baker. “Part of this expansion is to make better use of our (backup) data center installation. We are working towards some site rearchitecture to allow us to have an active/active setup with traffic being served from both locations simultaneously.”

Digg isn’t the first social media site to pursue this capability. Facebook recently added a second data centersite in Virginia to its original facility in Santa Clara, Calif. and reworked its architecture to take advantage of its bi-coastal infrastructure. “The primary reason for building a new datacenter on the East coast was latency,” Facebook engineer Jason Sobel wrote about the move. “By putting servers in Virginia we could reduce the time to send a page to users on the east coast and in Europe by a noticeable amount.”

International expansion is a key component of Digg’s expansion, as about half of its 30 million existing users hail from outside the US. The site will also add greater personalization and additional content and categories. Helping to fund these initiatives is $28.7 million round in new funding, led by Highland Capital Partners.

That funding may also help with another infrastructure improvement: the use of a content delivery network (CDN). “We’re evaluating the use of a CDN for serving some of our more static content,” said Baker. CDNs like Akamai (AKAM) and Limelight Networks (LLNW) help sites improve their performance by storing content (caching) in a distributed network of data centers, moving content closer to users.

Digg’s primary data center is an Equinix facility in Silicon Valley. Digg CEO Jay Adelson was the founder and chief technology officer at Equinix as it built its network and reputation, and then joined with Kevin Rose to co-found Digg. The company added a disaster recovery site after a lengthy outage in June 2007.

Baker didn’t provide any details about the prospective locations and providers for Digg’s data center expansion. But given the companies’ shared lineage, Equinix is well-positioned to benefit from continued growth for Digg and its infrastructure. Equinix has recently expanded its data centers in Washington, New Jersey and Chicago and would have capacity available in key expansion markets. The company also has data centers in both Europe and Asia, which would allow it to support an international expansion or peering agreements in those regions.

For more on Digg and its infrastructure, see How Digg Works: A Look Under The Hood and our Digg Channel on DCK.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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