Facebook’s New $750 Million Alabama Data Center

19 Jun 2018 by Datacenters.com Technology

Facebook is adding to its list of data centers, and the location of the latest will be Huntsville, Alabama. Facebook made the announcement a few days ago, two weeks after the Huntsville City Council approved the project.

The facility will occupy 970,000 square feet in Madison County. The data center will be the eleventh owned by Facebook in the US, alongside three other international data centers.

Why Facebook Chose Huntsville

Facebook chose Huntsville because of its history as an innovative tech hub, hence a natural fit for the company’s culture. Huntsville is known as Rocket City, because it was the launch site for the Saturn V rocket that took Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the moon.

The proposed Huntsville data center is strategically located to take advantage of renewable energy, high-quality local infrastructure (water, wastewater, fiber), valuable partners within the community and great talent in the area.

The Budget for the Data Center

Facebook plans to use $750 million on the project. The company has also created a Facebook page where it will post progress updates on the Huntsville data center. 

As part of the project development agreement with Huntsville, Facebook agreed to buy the land for the data center with the option to purchase more land.

How Huntsville will Benefit from the Data Center

When the data center is finally complete, the average worker’s salary will be $80,000. Facebook will employ 100 people in the Huntsville data center. 

This shows that Facebook’s data center projects are not just about giving its online users a great user experience. It is also about creating a positive effect in the community. 

In a recent study, every $1 million in operating expenses in Facebook’s data center supports 13 jobs in the economy. Also, every $1 million in capital expenditures supports at least 14 jobs in the economy. 

Joe Lackey of Muscle Shoals, a construction project manager, is the data center’s first employee.

Why is Facebook Investing Heavily in Data Centers?

Facebook has many data centers in the US and around the world. The objective of building these data centers is to host the massive amounts of user data used to power the tech giant’s apps and services. 

Essentially, the data center will host most of the photos, videos, and news articles that people find in their Facebook feed.

Facebook Outsources Its Data Center Designs

After constructing its data centers, Facebook outsources its data center designs, making them freely available to engineers to fiddle with and experiment new designs. 

Whilst doing this, Facebook undermines the traditional server industry that kept designs secret and earned a lot from them.

Renewable Energy Sources to Power 100% of the Data Center

In the past few years, Facebook has shown a lot of interest in renewable energy. One of its aims for the future is to have all its energy needs satisfied by renewable energy. 

In the Huntsville data center, Facebook is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to identify solar projects in the area that will satisfy 100% of the facility’s power requirements. 

Working with the Tennessee Valley Authority, Facebook is also trying to establish a renewable energy tariff to allow qualifying customers to purchase renewable resources.

Facebook Wants the Data Center Operational by 2020

Facebook’s Huntsville data center is scheduled to open in 2020. 

When it opens, the data center will give a great user experience not only to Facebook users in Alabama, but also around the world. The data center will be situated next to Aerojet Rocketdyne and Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

Facebook’s Bigger Picture

In the grand scheme of things, Facebook is working on the foundational technologies required to bring the world closer. The Huntsville data center is a small but vital step towards achieving Facebook’s objectives. 

By investing in the area, Facebook sent a friend request to Huntsville, and they ended up more than friends. They are partners.


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