Here’s another example of a fast-growing online service moving into its own data center to gain more control over its infrastructure. 37signals, which makes web-based business apps, said this week that it has moved into colocation space in a Chicago-area data center. The company had previously housed its infrastructure with Rackspace Hosting.
Last week we noted that Facebook and Twitter have each begun building their own data centers after initially relying on third-party providers, citing the need for more flexibility to customize their infrastructure. 37signals, which has more than 5 million users of its multi-tenant apps, cited similar reasons for its shift.
“Our needs have evolved a great deal as we’ve grown and we reached the point where it made sense for us to acquire our own hardware and manage our own data center infrastructure,” wrote 37signals operations manager Mark Imbriaco. “The amount of flexibility that we have with our own environment makes it much easier for us to use some specialized equipment that meets our needs.”
37signals’ operation includes about 50 physical servers and 100 virtual servers. Although Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of the company’s advisors, moving to Amazon Web Services wasn’t an ideal option, according to Imbriaco.
“We tend toward monolithic databases that grow to fairly large sizes,” he wrote. “EC2 instances don’t have the I/O capacity and memory to run them at acceptable performance levels. We also have really aggressive performance targets for all of our applications that are easier to hit when we can control the entire environment. EC2 and other cloud hosting services (at least for now) are a much better target for greenfield projects than for porting existing applications.”