Facebook Expanding its Data Centers. Again

Facebook has recently signed two leases for additional data center space as it expands its infrastructure to support the social network's phenomenal growth.

Rich Miller

March 30, 2009

3 Min Read
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Facebook has recently signed leases for additional data center space as it expands its infrastructure to support the social network's phenomenal growth. Facebook, which has just surpassed 200 million users, is also reportedly seeking up to $100 million for additional servers.

In recent weeks Facebook has reserved a large chunk of space in the huge ACC5 data center facilty being built in Ashburn, Virginia by DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT). Facebook is a tenant in DuPont Fabros' ACC4 data center in Ashburn, where it leases about 10,000 square feet of space to house its servers. The company's lease in ACC5 is at least double that size, and will use more than 6 megawatts of power.

DuPont Fabros announced the large lease at ACC5, but has not disclosed the tenant. However, other sources have named Facebook as the customer.  

Facebook has also signed a lease for additional data center space from Digital Realty Trust. The new lease, signed in the fourth quarter of last year, is the company's second with Digital Realty, the world's largest data center landlord. Back in February 2008, Facebook leased an entire data center facility in Santa Clara.

Digital Realty mentioned the new lease in its fourth quarter earnings call, but didn't disclose the location of the new facility. Facebook has concentrated its West Coast infrastructure in Silicon Valley, where it also houses equipment with Terremark in Santa Clara and Switch and Data in Palo Alto.  

There are other possibilities, however. Much of Facebook's recent growth has been in international markets, suggesting that it will eventually need data center space overseas. Digital Realty owns numerous properties in Europe, and is building multiple data centers in the London market. Facebook's relationship with Digital Realty could allow it to expand its data center footprint in Europe.

Why does Facebook need more data center space? The social networking service has experienced phenomenal growth over the past year. Here are some data points that illustrate the company's infrastructure needs:

  • Facebook has been adding more than 600,000 new users a day in recent months.

  • More than 24 percent of U.S. Internet users have Facebook accounts, as do 43 percent of the online audience in the UK. See an analysis by Niall Kennedy for more country-by-country data.  

  • The company may be spending as much as $1 million a month on electricity to power its servers and data center space. 

  • Facebook hosts more than 10 billion photos posted by users. 

This all adds up to an enormous amount of data to store, manage and move across the Internet. Business Week reported this week that Facebook is trying to arrange an additional $100 million in debt financing to lease servers and storage equipment. This prompted BW to wonder whether Facebook had enough cash to stay ahead of its infrastructure costs.

The new leases mean that once Facebook has lined up its financing and bought more servers, it will have space to hook them up to power and high-speed Internet connections. The ACC5 data center is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of this year. 


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