Facebook is announcing today that it will be constructing a data center facility from the ground up in a small village in Ireland called Clonee.
The 227-acre site will rely completely on renewable energy — wind, specifically — and it should be handling Web traffic and Facebook’s own computing needs by late 2017 or early 2018, Facebook vice president for site operations Tom Furlong wrote in a blog post. And it will be a big deal for locals — in contrast to the city of Dublin 10 miles away, Clonee and nearby Dunboyne are home to fewer than 10,000 people, according to the local Meath County Council.
This will be Facebook’s sixth data center facility. Back in July Facebook confirmed that it would be building a data center in Fort Worth, Texas. Other sites include Altoona, Iowa; Forest City, North Carolina; Luleå, Sweden; and the original one in Prineville, Oregon.
Furlong does not include a price tag for the new Ireland facility in today’s blog post, but the Fort Worth site will cost Facebook $1 billion, local filings show. In other words, these data centers are major capital-intensive projects. Many modern Web apps, like Airbnb and Snapchat, run on cloud infrastructure, but, following in the path of Google, Facebook has sought to go it alone and build data centers to run its own applications to maximize efficiency.
Like other Facebook data centers, the new one in Clonee will contain servers, storage, and networking gear that Facebook engineers designed. Among the properties are the slick Yosemite servers, which are now part of the Open Compute Project, Furlong wrote. There will also be fast 100-Gigabit Ethernet connections, he wrote.
The choice of the site is interesting. Since late 2013 there have been rumors of Facebook building a data center in Asia. A site in Taiwan was the subject of the most recent round of rumors. But here we have Facebook expanding its presence in Europe, specifically Ireland, where it has had its international headquarters since 2009.
But when you look at Facebook’s financial track record internationally, an infrastructure expansion in Europe rather than Asia does make sense. In Europe Facebook generated $3.13 billion in revenue in 2014, while in Asia Pacific it brought in $1.74 billion that year, according to the company’s annual report for 2014.
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