Some interesting insights from Facebook this week as the company broadcasts some of the thinking behind its IT strategy. And instead of submitting to the virtualization craze that’s spreading through corporate data centers, the social networking giant is throwing its weight behind microservers.
This comes as Intel announces plans for Xeon- and Atom-based processors for microservers; small, low-wattage servers that are little more than a processor, some RAM, networking interconnects and a smattering of storage. And while they can’t hold a candle to enterprise-class iron performance-wise, they have more than enough horsepower to handle many dedicated and/or low-level tasks.
Tasks like Web serving, according to Computerworld…
Front-end Web servers are where Facebook is nearly ready to start using microservers, according to Coglitore [Gio Coglitore, director of Facebook labs]. “With Intel’s announcement, it’s just about to happen,” he said. Facebook will probably start implementing microservers on a large scale beginning late this year or early next year.
Makes a ton of sense for a company that’s scaling as quickly as Facebook. It also explains why virtualization doesn’t suit the company, as least not at present. When so much hinges on the availability of its systems, it simply can’t afford to risk (or even deal with) losing even a handful of virtual machines if just one server gives up the ghost.
For Intel, microserver architecture is a defense against ARM, which is charting a course toward server chips and currently dominates in the low-power smartphone and tablet processor markets. It’s also a way for the leading chipmaker to get in on the green/cloud server buzz that’s surrounding innovative startups like Calxeda.
And considering how quickly Facebook, Google and others have been growing their IT infrastructures lately — not to mention showing a willingness to explore alternative server architectures — it’s wise to cater to this market. If nothing else, they’re showing no signs of slowing down, which translates into hefty hardware sales.