One of the world’s busiest websites has a new home. The Wikimedia Foundation, operators of Wikipedia, is making an Equinix data center in Ashburn its primary data center, while its previous data center in Tampa, Florida becomes the backup. The foundation has migrated most of its main infrastructure over recent months, with the remainder of the move o be completed on the week of January 22, 2013.
“The Migration team is in the last lap on completing the remaining tasks to ready our software stack and Ashburn infrastructure for the big switchover day,” CT Woo, Director of Technical Operations at Wikimedia wrote last Friday. Wikimedia will block a 8-hour migration window on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th. During those periods, there will be intermittent blackouts and they will be treated as ‘planned’ outages.
The Ashburn data center has already been serving most of the traffic — about 90% of it — and it has been set to replace the Tampa location as primary for a while. Now it will be known officially as the “home” of Wikipedia. This is part of a long range plan to improve performance and reliability.
Why the Move?
As a non-profit running one of the world’s busiest web destinations, Wikipedia provides an unusual case study of a high-performance site. In an era when Apple can spend $1 billion on a single data center, Wikimedia spent $2.6 million on Internet hosting in 2011, with a server count measured in hundreds, not thousands.
Despite its low-budget approach to supporting a high-traffic site, the Wikimedia Foundation made reliability a priority in 2010, when it expanded its U.S. infrastructure. “Our projects are vulnerable to primary data center failure,” the group said in its annual report. “We will build out a second data center to enable safe failover in the case of disaster. We will also increase uptime by improving site monitoring, capacity planning and operations response.”
That meant a long-range plan to shift its server footprint beyond Tampa to Ashburn, probably America’s busiest intersection of networks. Loudoun County, Virginia is home to millions of square feet of data center space and many of the Internet’s key interconnection facilities. Placing Wikipedia’s servers in Ashburn improves its connection to high-traffic networks that serve its users.
In addition to the Tampa and Ashburn locations, Wikimedia has data centers in San Francisco and Amsterdam. The group also may add a server farm in Asia to support its global traffic. Last August, a Fiber cut knocked Wikipedia Ashburn offline .