Facebook's New Fort Worth Campus Stretches Longer Than Four Football Fields and Is Still Growing

Your vacation photos, a selfie at the prom, all those "likes" for the all-night diner - they all zip through Facebook's new data center in North Fort Worth."Facebook aps and services are now coming to you every day from this facility," Tom Furlong, Vice President of Infrastructure at Facebook, said Thursday morning at the grand opening of the social media giant's huge new data center. "If you are local, there is a high probability you are using this site."All of your profile information is stored here," Furlong said. "Our data centers form the foundation of how we connect billions of people."Now wonder the place is so massive. The size of a shopping mall, two buildings at Facebook's campus on State Highway 170 contain about 950,000 square feet.Construction is just starting on a third building that will add another 440,000 square feet.With 150 acres, Facebook has room and is drawing up plans to construct a total of five data center buildings on the property in the AllianceTexas development.The buildings house acres of computer servers and the equipment needed to keep them powered, cooled and running 24 hours a day."The Fort Worth data center is a cornerstone in our global infrastructure," Furlong said. "We have in this facility our latest hardware - our most hyper efficient designs."About 750 construction workers have been building the campus, which has a 150-person operating staff."We have put over 2.7 million man-hours into this construction project so far," Furlong said. "They are kind of mind boggling numbers."We found a very strong pool of talent here for our construction teams and we have amazing operating teams that are establishing, too."The two buildings now constructed are so large that technicians use kick boards to get around."As the size of this site grows to get from one building to the next it becomes a people and time challenge," Furlong said. "It's scaled even bigger and grew faster than we ever anticipated."Facebook broke ground on the first data center building in mid 2015 and quickly added a second.The building permit values the third building that's now started at $267 million.The worldwide social media titan has so far opened five data centers around the planet and has announced plans for four more.The project in North Fort Worth - if built to maximum size - could be the biggest."It's physically one of the largest we've ever built," Furlong said.Facebook bought the site for its North Fort Worth project from AllianceTexas developer Hillwood Properties and then added more land to grow."It's going to be more than $1 billion," said Hillwood CEO Ross Perot Jr."To have the Facebook brand in Fort Worth as a part of AllianceTexas is extraordinarily prestigious."These are the factories of the 21st century."When Perot and Fort Worth leaders planned the 18,000-acre AllianceTexas project three decades ago, no one had heard of the Internet. The project was originally built for aviation and manufacturing."We have a lot more data center business coming," Perot said."We have over 350 acres dedicated to data centers at Alliance," he said. "And we are working hard to get that filled up.Because of the size of the buildings, they can take up a lot of real estate."It's over four football fields - nearly five - from end to end," said K.C. Timmons, site manager for Facebook's Fort Worth campus. "It's one of the most efficient data centers in the world."The first two buildings are connected by an office and employee amenity center that includes workstations for the IT folks, food service, meeting rooms, lounge areas and an outdoor patio.There's an employee break room with a pool table, big screen TV and seating areas.Each data hall building has a big loading dock and shipping area to handle deliveries of equipment. The server racks that hold the computer equipment weigh between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds and take two people to wrangle.They are designed to swap out components in less than two minutes."That's important when you are servicing thousands of data servers," Timmons said.The upper level of each building houses huge cooling systems and other equipment that support the rows of data servers on the ground floor."Servers need air to cool," Timmons said, showing where outside air is pulled into the building and run over panels with water. "It's a giant swamp cooler."Facebook's project is expected to be the most valuable development in AllianceTexas when it's finished, said Hillwood Properties president Mike Berry."It's what is in the buildings that's the real cost," Berry said.  Continue reading...

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