Supporting Facebook’s Global Data Center Growth with a Scalable Building Management System

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Soaring demand for cloud resources has placed data centers under enormous pressure to scale quickly to meet demand. No company feels this pressure more than Facebook (now called Meta), whose many brands, including Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, have nearly 3.6B active users across their platforms.

Facebook found a way to tackle its challenges using a BMS (building management system) solution to efficiently scale data center capacity. Their unconventional but highly successful approach is the focus of a recent Schneider Electric Expert Learning Session now available OnDemand. The session features Jeff Ronan, Data Center Design, Global BMS Program Lead at Facebook and Bill Westbrock, Facebook Strategic Account Executive, Schneider Electric who share how they partnered to build out Facebook’s data center capacity to support their explosive global growth. Read on for some history and highlights of how the project came together.

Access “Supporting Facebook’s Global Data Center Growth” Learning Session OnDemand

Facebook’s data center evolution

In 2017 Facebook realized that its legacy Decentralized Data Center (DDC) platform and delivery model was quickly running out of capacity to support its exponential cloud data growth.  With an aggressive 5-year timeline to expand from 18 to 68 global data centers, Facebook engineers knew that their success depended on implementing a repeatable, scalable data center delivery platform, and finding an experienced partner to design and install the building management solutions.

After an engineering assessment of their current program, Facebook pivoted to an unconventional Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) platform to provide the redundancy and speed to market they needed. A PLC is a ruggedized computer that can automate a specific process like a machine function or assembly line. PLCs are already a proven automation solution for making manufacturing processes faster and more efficient. In data center applications they provide those same benefits, and meet requirements for 24/7 availability, reliability, and secure open IT protocols and global interoperability with building management systems.

For Facebook, PLCs have the added benefit of being easy to procure, and they can be installed and commissioned by any qualified system integration contractor. This opened up options for Facebook to manage details of the building management system’s hardware design and programming elements themselves, to ensure their systems were built for repeatability and scalability around the globe.

data center planning meeting

A more efficient way to design and install PLCs

Facebook’s approach called for a flexible partner with global reach who could understand their systems and support their goals. With deep knowledge of the PLC hardware as well as building controls and automation expertise, Schneider Electric was in the best position to support every facet of Facebook’s data center BMS business.

Schneider quickly built a cross-functional team of building management and industry automation experts to lead the hardware and design system integration for Facebook’s data centers. Schneider was able to adjust its product roadmaps based on Facebook’s timing and needs, and create a set of pre-configured design and installation packages to ensure a higher level of consistency and repeatability in their systems.

The Schneider team also built optimization tools, including an automated PLC tool called “The Librarian”, to help streamline the ever-growing number of complex designs and processes. The Librarian tool was used by global teams to consolidate 64 different design variances into a dozen, and decrease design times from weeks and months to days and hours. The Librarian tool along with other optimization projects saved Facebook 22% in building management system design costs.

Facebook found that its data center direct delivery model promoted collaboration between project owners and design system integrators. It also improved efficiency by enabling specialized teams to focus on core competencies, which drives consistent and repeatable deliverables.

Access the Facebook and Schneider Expert Learning Session

Data center projects of any scale can benefit from the lessons of Facebook’s partnership with Schneider. To find out more, view our Expert Learning Session titled Supporting Facebook’s Data Center Growth to get an inside view of the building management system data center project that supports Facebook’s global expansion. Gain insights on how to build and implement scalable and repeatable projects that optimize operations and meet the ever insatiable demand for data.

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