Dude, Where’s My Data?

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Dude, Where’s My Data?

Society is rapidly becoming more reliant on portable, online storage solutions for personal & professional needs. We use services like Dropbox to store our documents (who report having over 500 million users in August 2016). Google’s OneDrive will back-up your smartphone’s camera roll automatically & upload your precious memories without you having to lift a finger. There are around 4.3 billion email accounts in the world & each user has an average of 2.01 accounts. Messaging & multimedia app Snapchat reports that their users upload around 9,000 photos per second. PER SECOND.

That’s a LOT of data.

Take a moment to reflect on how much data you have in your pocket right now. It’s quite simple to access it, but where on earth does it “go” & where is it “kept”?

Let’s take a look at Facebook. The social media giant has 1.13 billion users actively engaging with their site daily & that number is growing rapidly. Facebook came from humble beginnings of just one server that was housed in a dormitory at Harvard University in 2004. To keep up with the activity & demand of their users, Facebook has grown to include four massive, company built data centres around the world that contain tens of thousands of servers each. Facebook also occupies space at multiple existing data centres & is in the process of planning & building many more server farms across the globe. To give you an idea of just how many servers the company is running, they had implemented 60,000 in 2010. You can imagine what that number must be, now!

Its latest centre is the size of six football fields & is located near the Arctic Circle in Luleå, Sweden. Here, they use novel ways to be a greener, more efficient place to keep data stored safely & securely. Sweden has excellent local power, so less backup generators are required to keep the centre running & hydro-electric power is harnessed from rivers located nearby. Naturally cold outside air is pumped into the facility to keep the servers from overheating, which replaces air conditioning. Facebook is consistently finding ways to be more energy efficient & touts that their next data centre (to be located in Ireland) will be run on 100% renewable energy. They will also implement the latest hardware & networking technology to provide the most complex & powerful servers yet.

As part of the Open Compute project, they will share their open model of development of the technology that goes into these data centres. You can take a look for yourself at www.opencompute.org & even check out photos, videos & stories from the Luleå Data Centre at www.facebook.com/LuleaDataCenter/

I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to housing data, but next time you reach into your pocket to upload an image to social media, you might have a better appreciation for the intricate networking & powerful infrastructure that allows your friends to ‘like’ the latest picture of your dog.

- Amber

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