Facebook to add 900,000 sq ft to Eagle Mountain campus
Social networking giant Facebook has announced a massive expansion project taking place at its hyperscale data centre campus in Eagle Mountain, Utah, one of the facilities it uses to support its social media app, as well as Instagram and WhatsApp.
Construction on Facebook’s Eagle Mountain data centre campus has been underway since 2018, with the first phase establishing a footprint of approximately 1.5mn square feet of land spanning three buildings and using more than 50,000 yards of structural concrete, 8,000 tons of steel, and 2mn hours of labour. Each of the three buildings is, according to William Marks, Facebook’s Community Development Manager in Utah, “the —nearly four football fields long.”
Now, in response to what Marks calls an “immense” amount of traffic driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook is expanding the Eagle Mountain campus even further. “For the first time ever, there are more than 3bn people actively using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger around the world each month. That includes 2.6 billion people using Facebook alone, and more than 2.3bn people using at least one of our services every single day. The reason we can handle this immense amount of traffic is thanks to our data centres, just like what’s being built in Eagle Mountain,” said Marks in an interview in July last year.
Bigger all the time
The planned expansion will add another two buildings to the Eagle Mountain campus, expanding its footprint by 900,000 square feet.
Facebook operates or is building a total of 16 data centres around the world, using leading open source hardware architecture techniques devised by its spin off organisation, the Open Compute Project Foundation. In a , Steve Helvie of the OCP noted that, due to efficient design principles and a modular, toolless approach to construction, Facebook only needs to employ one technician for every 40,000 servers in its facilities.
However, during the construction and expansion process, Facebook says that the Eagle Mountain campus will be a huge source of employment in the local area, with approximately 1,500 workers on site at construction’s peak.
US Representative Jefferson Moss commented: “This additional investment from Facebook is amazing news for our community and a testament to Utah’s forward thinking policies that continue to encourage investments in our state.”
Sustainability at Hyperscale
Facebook, like other leading hyperscalers, is at the forefront of attempts to drive sustainability in the data centre industry. The company plans to make all 16 of its campuses carbon neutral and 100% supported by renewable energy.
Its commitments are leading to the construction of more than 5,400 MW of new solar and wiln power plants globally, which collectively reduced the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by over 2.6mn metric tonnes over the past three years.
However, the company does help its carbon balance sheet with the purchase of carbon credits, which allow it to discount emitted carbon in exchange for investing in sustainability research and carbon capture projects like forest conservation. In 2019, Facebook offset 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions using credits - the of more than 21,000 passenger vehicles or 550 rail cars worth of coal burned.
In Utah, Facebook has invested heavily in solar power, delivering over 500 MW of clean power to the Utah Grid, meaning that upon completion, the Eagle Mountain campus will be 100% supported by solar power generated within the state.
“Facebook’s sustainable expansion in Eagle Mountain shows the long-term commitment this global tech leader has to Utah. Since 2018, this data center has been a tremendous boon to the local economy and we’re extremely grateful for Facebook’s ongoing investment in our state,” commented Utah’s Governor Spencer Cox.
Information about the Eagle Mountain campus’ power capacity, as well as other details of the site are hard to come by. Facebook (and other hyperscalers like Google and Amazon Web Services) is extremely cagey about the details of its facilities.
Local Utah residents have even complained of harassment by private security staff when driving near the Eagle Mountain campus on public roads.
Local mother, Kendra Whatcott, commented on the Eagle Mountain campus’ Facebook page, claiming that, “The second your car is ‘spotted’ by security there is a security vehicle who follows you, outside on the public road,” adding that she was aware of those security details pulling over citizens, something the local sheriff's department assured her was illegal (it is).
Equinix: Digital leaders expect changes to working patterns
A global report released by Equinix has revealed that digital leaders expect long-term changes to the way people work.
As part of the report, the data infrastructure company surveyed 2,600 IT decision-makers from several different businesses spanning 26 countries in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions. The study also highlighted the biggest technology trends affecting global businesses and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted digital infrastructure plans.
Talking about companies’ expansion strategies, Claire Macland, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Equinix, said: “Many companies are now investing more in their digital infrastructure to enable them to embrace a hybrid working model and thrive in the new world of work we all find ourselves in.
“Despite headwinds in many sectors, many organizations are continuing to expand physically and virtually into new markets and regions around the world”, she said.
The report drew the following conclusions:
- 64% of the 2,600 digital leaders surveyed believed there will be “long-term changes to both how and where people will work in the future.
- 57% of global companies intend to expand into new regions despite the effects of the pandemic
- 51% of businesses worldwide say they have rearchitected their IT infrastructure so that it can meet the demands of remote and hybrid working. Digital transformation has also been accelerated due to an increase in businesses’ technology budgets.
How might digital transformation be affected post-pandemic?
COVID-19 has demanded that companies make several changes to the way that they operate, including digital transformation. According to the study, 47% of those surveyed reported that they have accelerated their digital transformation plans because of the Coronavirus pandemic. A further 42% of organisations said their budgets have increased to keep up with the growth of digital transformation.
Another change in adapting to the pandemic was to businesses’ IT strategies with six in 10 companies saying that it has been revised in response to the situation. 58% said they are looking to invest in technology to “improve agility’ post-COVID.
When asked about their priorities for their digital strategy, 80% of respondents said that digitising their infrastructure was of utmost importance, while 57% viewed interconnection as a ‘key facilitator’ of digital transformation.
"This increasing focus on digitization and expansion is one of the reasons why Equinix has continued to invest in its own growth. We completed 16 new expansions in 2020—our most active build year ever—and expect to continue to evolve Platform Equinix to support our customers as they continue on their digital transformation journey”, said Claire Macland.
Potential concerns disperse over expansion plans being halted by COVID-19
The study has also revealed that organisations’ previous concerns that the pandemic will negatively affect their business expansion plans have been lessened.
57% of businesses have said that they “still have plans” to expand into new regions and of that percentage, nearly two-thirds (63%) plan to do so virtually instead of investing in physical IT infrastructure.
The full Equinix report can be found here.