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Facebook Goes Green with New Data Centers

Facebook has expanded its data center space for the fourth time this year. The social network's breakout growth is turning out to be an economic stimulus plan for data center landlords. And its infrastructure isn't just getting bigger, it's getting greener.


facebookThe breakout growth of Facebook is turning out to be an economic stimulus plan for data center landlords. And the fast-growing social network's infrastructure isn't just getting bigger, it's getting greener. 

Facebook has confirmed that it has leased additional data center space in San Jose, Calif. in a new facility operated by Fortune Data Centers. This is the fourth data center expansion of 2009 for Facebook, which has signed two leases for additional data center space in Virginia and two more in Silicon Valley.

All LEED Gold Data Centers
All four of the leases are in facilities designed to attain the highest energy efficiency ratings under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program operated by the U.S. Green Building Council. Each of the data centers hosting Facebook's servers are on track for Gold certification under the LEED rating scale. 

As with most companies seeking out LEED data centers, Facebook's motivations are financial as well as environmental. The social network's racks are packed with servers, and efficient  data centers allow them to do more with the same square footage.

The latest lease in San Jose is reported to be a deal for about 5 megawatts of critical power. "We can confirm that we have signed an agreement, but we cannot disclose the specifics," Facebook said in a statement. "We are always looking at ways to add data center capacity to support our growing business."

Pursuing Wholesale Model
Facebook’s extraordinary growth has forced the company to invest in its infrastructure. The social network, which recently crossed the 300 million user barrier, has expanded by leasing space from the two largest “wholesale” data center landlords, the real estate investment trusts Digital Realty Trust and DuPont Fabros Technologies.

Since the beginning of 2009, Facebook has signed two leases for additional space in the ACC5 data center in Ashburn, Virginia operated by DuPont Fabros. The company has also added a data center in Santa Clara operated by Digital Realty, and now has leased space from Fortune down the road in San Jose.

Wholesale providers build the data center, including the raised-floor rechnical space and the power and cooling infrastructure, and then lease the completed facility. The tenant pays a significant premium over typical leases for office space, but is spared the capital investment to construct the data center.

Wholesale Model Means Savings
In the wholesale model, users can also occupy their data center space in about five months, rather than the one to two years needed to build an enterprise data center. This has positioned Facebook to continue growing rapidly without having to build its own facilities.

The San Jose lease allowed Fortune to fill its available space within six months of opening the doors. Fortune has now begun construction on the second phase, which will add another 6 megawatts of power capacity.

Focus on Efficiency
Fortune Data Centers' energy efficiency features include a design that uses a slab floor and drops cool air into the data center from above, taking advantage of the natural tendency for denser cool air to fall while warm air rises.

Fortune also separated the hot and cold air with vinyl curtains between the top of the racks and the ceiling, preventing warm air from mixing back in with cool air for the servers. The facility employs water-side economization and highly-efficient cooling towers, as well as an advanced building management system to monitor and manage environmental conditions.

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