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Welcome to Our New Overlords at the Pineville Facebook Data Center

By Mat Ellis on May 10, 2011

A new Facebook data center was recently unveiled in Pineville, OR amid a whirlwind of tree-hugging PR and controversy about coal.  Robert Scoble’s excellent photo tour is a good way to get acquainted with it.

While Pineville represents a major engineering achievement, several other companies (Google, Apple, Equinix, etc.) have built or are building similarly impressive infrastructure.

No, this Facebook data center is special because you’re looking at your next co-lo.

We are about to see a big change, where for most people the Cloud will be the first choice most of the time. And this means your next co-lo will look very much like this.

I for one welcome our new overlords.

But, I hear some of you exclaim, “I’ve done the math and the Cloud really is more expensive.” Or: “Our app just won’t work in the Cloud,” “I’m worried about security,” etc.. You may well be right, but you’re still going to be assimilated by the Cloud just like everyone else.

Let me explain.

The current buzz around the Cloud feels very similar to the move to rented co-lo space about 15 years ago. Back then conventional wisdom scoffed at the idea of renting a space for your computers. Rented space was considered ‘risky,’ ‘not as good as our own facility’ and ‘for startups.’ Roll on five years and it was the norm; in fact, my boss would have given me an odd look if I suggested anything else.

This change was driven by one simple fact: the rented facilities became much cheaper and better than doing it yourself.

Services offered by (among others) Rackspace, Heroku and Amazon already have better up time and scalability than most people’s internal systems. Companies like Netflix are spending a ton of money on these services. It’s just price and I/O performance that’s getting in the way of mass adoption and these problems will be solved very soon, within the next 12 months.

Pineville is just a glimpse of an inevitable future where Cloud 2.0 is reliable, abundant, fit-for-purpose and cheap thanks to three strong drivers:

    1. These Guys Really are Smarter than You. As a customer you now have access to these people for just a few cents per hour. Why do this yourself?
    2. HP, Dell and Others Will Enter the Cloud Service Provider Space. At some point cloud service providers will consolidate into a fewer much larger customers which is a Bad Thing from the server manufacturer perspective. You can be sure they’re looking how they could offer their own cloud.
    3. Plain Old Data Centers Will Enter the Market’. Building your own public cloud has been hard to get right until recently. Now products like Cloud Foundry, Open Stack and Eucalyptus make this much easier and will enable existing data center providers to provide a truly competitive cloud service without too much risk. This will have a dramatic effect on how much you and I pay for our cloud.

We expect (hope) most of our readers to already be of a similar mind to us. Yet we all know a few people who are still in a state of denial over the rise of the cloud. Send them a copy of this article just for kicks. They won’t read this far and they’ll probably claim we’re wrong. But at least you’ll have the pleasure of reminding them about this in 5 years time.

Being in the know feels great