It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a PowerPoint slide can tell the story of thousands of servers.
That was the case with a presentation from Facebook's Tom Cook at last week's Velocity 2010 conference, which depicted the growth of the company's server footprint. Designed to illustrate Facebook's insatiable need for more servers to support its 400 million users, the chart didn't include any numbers, seeking not to reveal the actual server count.
Dates Provide A Clue
But the chart included dates, which allows us to do some math to fill in the blanks. In a presentation in November 2009, Facebook vice president of technology Jeff Rothschild disclosed that the company had more than 30,000 servers. Cook's chart shows a brief plateau in Facebook's server growth at about that time, followed by a sharp upward spike in the growth line through the first quarter of 2010 that effectively doubles the total number of servers.
That suggests that Facebook now has 60,000 or more servers. The sharp acceleration in Facebook's server growth in late 2009 also helps explain the company's move to lease large chunks of data center space in northern Virginia and Silicon Valley in March. The growth spurt occurred after Facebook announced plans to construct its own data center in Prineville, Oregon.
That places Facebook among the largest Internet companies that have publicly discussed their server growth, but still well behind Intel, which has more than 100,000 servers. See Who Has The Most Web Servers for more data on the largest Internet infrastructures.
Why so many servers? Facebook now has more than 400 million active users, including more than 200 million who use the service every day. Here are some other data points from Cook's presentation and a talk last Thursday at Structure 2010 by Facebook's Jonathan Heiliger.
- Users spend more than 16 billion minutes on Facebook each day
- Every week users share more than 6 billion pieces of content, including status updates, photos and notes.
- Each month more than 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook.
- Users view more than 1 million photos every second
- Facebook's servers perform more than 50 million operations per second, primarily between the caching tier and web servers
- More than 1 million web sites have implemented features of Facebook Connect
Here’s a look at some of our past coverage of the growth of Facebook’s infrastructure:
- Facebook Amassing Data Center Space: The company has moved to lock down much of the available data center space in two major markets, leasing large chunks of space in Santa Clara, Calif. and Ashburn, Va.
- Facebook Building Its Own Data Center in Oregon: Facebook’s first company-built data center will be in Prineville, Oregon, and will be among the most energy efficient in the industry.
- Should Servers Come With Batteries? Will the data center of the future have no central UPS units, and be filled with servers with on-board batteries? The data center team at Facebook believes it should
- Facebook: Managing Epic Growth in Real-Time: CTO Jonathan Heiliger presents an overview of Facebook’s back-end operations at the Velocity 2009 conference in June.
- A Look Inside Facebook’s Data Center: A recruitment video provides a glimpse inside the server-packed racks and aisles of a Facebook data center.
- Facebook Pushes Limits on Memcached: Caching is key to massive web scalabilty. Here’s how Facebook is extending a popular caching technology.