Facebook Confirms Altoona Data Center

By Justin Lafferty 

A day after an Iowa newspaper reported that Facebook’s next data center would be built in that state, Facebook confirmed the plans. The data center in Altoona, Iowa (13 miles northeast of Des Moines) will be Facebook’s fourth owned and operated data center, and the third in the U.S. Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure Jay Parikh described in a blog post why the company is building another data center.

Facebook notes that that the 476,000-square foot Altoona center will feature the same Open Compute Project server designs and outdoor air cooling system as the other data centers, but this building will have evolutionary improvements to the design and architecture.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for this summer and the data center is expected to be operational in 2014.

Parikh wrote in a blog post about how as Facebook grows, so does its need to reliably store data:

For most people, Facebook is something pretty simple. It’s a service you visit every day to connect with the people and things you care about. But behind the scenes, Facebook is a global service of immense scale and complexity — over 1 billion people use Facebook every month, and every day there are more than 2.7 billion Likes and over 2.4 billion content items shared with friends.

In the coming years, as our service continues to grow and people share and connect in more ways, we need to make sure that our technical infrastructure also continues to scale. Our goal is not just to deliver you a fast, reliable experience on Facebook every day – we also want to help make connectivity a universal opportunity. Our data centers are essential for making that happen.

While this will help Facebook store photos and other data (as the worst nightmare for the site is downtime), but it will also give a big boost to Altoona. According to a press release from the office of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Facebook is investing at least $299.5 million in this project, which will bring hundreds of construction and operational jobs to the city.

Altoona Mayor Skip Conkling was excited that Facebook chose his city:

I welcome Facebook to the Altoona community. Quality companies and development make our city and state an even greater place to do business and to live and play. I want to thank all parties for their endeavors in securing this project.