The Facebook Data Center FAQ (Page 3)

How much Does Facebook Spend on Its Data Centers?

A map of the global audience for Facebook, created by Paul Butler, visualizes the geographic spread of its user base. (Source: Facebook)

Facebook has invested more than $1 billion in the infrastructure that powers its social network, which now serves more than 845 million users a month around the globe. The company spent $606 million on servers, storage, network gear and data centers in 2011, and expects to spend another $500 million in 2012, Facebook revealed in its February 2012 filing for an initial public stock offering.

Facebook reported in its SEC filing that it owns “network equipment” valued at $1.016 billion at the close of 2011. The number reflects the expense of rapidly building a massive Internet infrastructure, including Facebook’s shift from buying vendor gear and leasing data centers to building its own servers, racks and custom data centers.

Thus far, Facebook’s spending compares well with its Internet-scale peers. Google spent $951 million on its data center operations in just the fourth quarter of 2011, with infrastructure capital expenses of $3.4 billion for all of 2011.

Facebook spent about $210 million to build 28 megawatts of data center space in Prineville, which works out to about $7.5 million per megawatt. The most efficient providers are building scale-out data center space at between $5 million and $9 million per megawatt. Enterprise data centers, which require additional investment in on-site redundancy and security, can cost $15 million per megawatt.

Facebook said it expects to spend $180 million on real estate leases in 2012, but did not break out how much of that was dedicated to leasing of wholesale data center space, a market in which Facebook is one of the largest tenants. We have previously estimated Facebook’s spending on data center leases to be at least $50 million a year.

Here’s what we know about Facebook’s spending on its major data center commitments:

  • Facebook is paying $18.1 million a year for 135,000 square feet of space in data center space it leases from Digital Realty Trust (DLR) in Silicon Valley and Virginia, according to data from the landlord’s June 30 quarterly report to investors.
  • The social network is also leasing data center space in Ashburn, Virginia from DuPont Fabros Technology(DFT). Although the landlord has not published the details of Facebook’s leases, data on the company’s largest tenants reveals that Facebook represents about 15 percent of DFT’s annualized base rent, which works out to about $21.8 million per year.
  • Facebook has reportedly leased 5 megawatts of critical load – about 25,000 square feet of raised-floor space – at a Fortune Data Centers facility in San Jose.
  • In March, Facebook agreed to lease an entire 50,000 square foot data center that was recently completed by CoreSite Realty in Santa Clara.
  • Facebook also hosts equipment in a Santa Clara, Calif. data center operated by Terremark Worldwide (TMRK), a Palo Alto, Calif. facilityoperated by Equinix (EQIX) and at least one European data center operated by Telecity Group. These are believed to be substantially smaller footprints than the company’s leases with Digital Realty and DuPont Fabros.

That adds up to an estimated $40 million for the leases with the Digital Realty and DuPont Fabros, When you add in the cost of space for housing equipment at Fortune, CoreSite, Terremark, Switch and Data, Telecity and other peering arrangements to distribute content, we arrive at an estimate of at least $50 million in annual data center costs for Facebook.

What Does it Look Like Inside A Facebook Data Center?

In April 2011, Data Center Knowledge was on hand as Facebook opened its first data center in Prineville, Oregon. Facebook Director of Datacenter Engineering Jay Park provided a tour of the data center, which we’ll be presenting in two installments. The first video provides a look inside the data halls housing thousands of servers that power Facebook, including a closer look at the custom servers, racks and UPS units the company created for the facility. This video runs about 8 minutes.

In our seconds video, Facebook Director of Datacenter Engineering Jay Park provides a detailed overview of the facility’s “penthouse” cooling system, which uses the upper floor of the building as a large cooling plenum with multiple chambers for cooling, filtering and directing the fresh air used to cool the data center. This video runs about 12 minutes.

NEXT: How Efficient Are Facebook’s Data Centers?

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