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Facebook and the big cloud debate

Like most companies Facebook is regularly assessing their IT and asking the question: is this delivering the best solution at the best cost for us. There are many different areas that are open to scrutiny, one being the question of handing all their processing over to a Cloud service provider.

“We look at, probably once or twice a year, does it make sense for us to build more infrastructure in the Cloud, and on someone else’s backbone, and less for ourselves?” said Jonathan Heiliger, Vice President of Technical Operations at Facebook, at the Structure 2010 conference in San Francisco. “We’ve determined, that it doesn’t, each time we’ve done this analysis.”

The reasons for this, Heiliger went on to explain, were that the cost to Facebook to build and maintain their own data centre is still less than the bids from Cloud service provider, plus managing and owning their own infrastructure gives greater control and adaptability.

“It gives us a tone of flexibility. We don’t have to wait for someone to go develop a feature. We just roll it out ourselves. By using our own infrastructure, we can put in a different CPU architecture, add a new networking device, or introduce traffic acceleration when and where we like. It also leaves us free to shift traffic around and place caches where it makes the most sense.”

Ebay, Google and several other big web based organisations with millions of users have come to the same conclusion. By moving away from the Cloud they have been able to cut costs and improve performance. Heiliger went on to say “I advise a growing web company to compare the total cost of ownership of Cloud versus a home grown data centre and the value of having internal control over it.”

Another factor to take into consideration is the amount of reimbursement under most Cloud service-level agreements. This is often capped at the cost of the contract rather than the value of lost operating time to the web company or their customers.

The lesson to take from this is that a full investigation is required before a company can decide whether moving to or from Cloud is right for them. If you are faced with this decision and would like budget costs for the design, build and on- going maintenance of your own data centre contact:

Future-tech at, One of our consultants can discuss the options and provide a detailed and accurate business proposal with ROI. Alternatively call us on 0845 9000 127 or complete our contact form.