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April 7, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:30am

Facebook, LinkedIn bet big on international data centres

News: Facebook set to take Open Compute Project hardware technology into Irish hub, as LinkedIn expands in APAC region.

By Joao Lima

Social media giants Facebook and LinkedIn have this week expanded their data centre footprint amid user growth.

Facebook has broken ground on a €200m hub in the Dublin region, Ireland, in one of the largest data centres investments of 2016 so far, either in the web scale or colocation spaces.

The facility will help power the company’s social networking platform, Messenger app, Instagram and other apps, Tom Furlong, Facebook’s VP of infrastructure said.

The 220-acre site in Clonee, County of Meath, will see a 621,000 sq ft data centre be built with the latest hardware technology on servers, storage and network from the company’s Open Compute Project (OCP), according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The OCP is an industry-wide coalition of companies dedicated to creating energy and cost-efficient infrastructure solutions for data centres and sharing them as open source.

It sees contributions from other companies including Intel, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Rackspace, Ericsson and Cisco.

The hub is expected to come online in late 2017 or early 2018 and will be powered with 100% renewable energy in line with the company’s first European site in Luleå, Sweden, opened in 2013.

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Facebook has signed an agreement to buy 150MW of wind power from Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners.

The energy purchased from Brookfield will also be used to power the company’s headquarters in Dublin, opened in 2009.

The Clonee data centre will be the company’s global sixth facility and the second in European soil.

Facebook will build 31,000 sq ft of hosting flooring in the first stage. However, Meath County Council has already approved the company’s plans to build a second building which will measure 26,600 sq ft.

Other stages of construction will follow over the next ten years, the council said.

Furlong: "Our next big milestone should be what we call serving traffic and that is probably 18 months down the road — the end of 2017 [or] early 2018.

"We will have done the fibre optic cabling in it, we will have the networking and we will be connected to the Facebook network and we will have the initial servers in with all the appropriate systems uploaded on them so we can actually take user traffic and start to serve it."

Mitul Patel, associate director for data centre research at commercial property and real estate services adviser CBRE, told CBR that Facebook’s focus on Dublin at this time reaffirms the importance of Europe to its global infrastructure network.

He said: "Dublin’s emergence as a major tech-hub creates its own data centre ecosystem which is attracting all of the big US IT Infrastructure firms. This sizeable cluster of data centre operations in one city is an unprecedented community of interest in the sector."

Elsewhere, LinkedIn has invested $59m in its first international data centre presence outside the US.

Also the company’s sixth hub, LinkedIn has now a hosting footprint in the APAC with a hub in Singapore as the number of users in the region more than doubled since 2014 to 85m.

Michael Yamaguchi, engineer at LinkedIn, wrote in the company’s blog that the social media provider’s data centre strategy is based on partnering with colocaters to build wholesale data centres.

The company has therefore leased 23,500 sq ft and 4.2 MW from colo Digital Realty’s site in Jurong.

Yamaguchi said: "We knew that our regional PoPs were no longer enough. To meet this need, LinkedIn’s first international data centre located in Singapore, went online in March 2016.

"The smart design features we are implementing in Singapore will reduce the annual energy consumption of the data centre by a magnitude that is equivalent to powering about 100 private homes in Singapore a year."

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