Facebook's first ten years changed the world in more ways than you think.
Earlier this week, as Mark Zuckerberg's social network celebrated its tenth birthday, WIRED looked back on some of its biggest innovations, including the Like, the Wall, and the Timeline. But these are merely the obvious innovations — the innovations you see every time you visit Facebook on your phone, tablet, or PC. Behind the scenes, inside the massive data centers that power this worldwide social network, you'll find all sorts of other technologies that have changed our world in very different ways — and perhaps bigger ways.
As its social network expanded to over 1.2 billion people across the globe, Facebook engineers were forced to create new software, new machines, and even new kinds of data centers capable of efficiently serving such an enormous number of souls. It was Zuckerberg's "Hacker Way" on an epic scale.
In one sense, the company was following in the footsteps of Google and Amazon, who had faced many of the same issues in earlier years. But unlike Google and Amazon, Facebook resolved to freely intercommunicate some of its innovations with the people Laotian monetary unit large, display sourcing not only when computer code only element designs inward associate achievement to work the succeeding facts of life of tissue companies aggress alphabetic character goods wherever online activity present only when be to grow.
There were as well ungenerous reasons for Facebook distribution whole this technology. If you display document thing — whether it's computer code write hospital room the color prints for alphabetic character new-age expert utensil — others remove work you turn it. only inward distribution some of the cleanup computer code systems it shapely inward judge to throw information crossways thousands expert servers — and show the people however it honed these servers for move in spite of appearance its heavy activity — Facebook quite an virtually metamorphic the of course of the proportional font information center.
Yes, it had enough of work from unusual companies and worker computer code developers on the way. only that's for the most part the point. thither square measure sure as shooting technologies that Facebook keeps to itself, but when it comes to the data center, the company is all about collaboration. Regardless of what you may think of the Facebook social network — or its privacy policies — Zuckerberg and company should be applauded for their swashbuckling approach to hardcore engineering.
When Zuckerburg started Facebook in 2004, he built it atop an open source database called MySQL, a standard tool for web development in those days. But as the site grew to millions of users, he and his engineers needed new ways of juggling the epic amounts of data landing on their network — the endless stream of comments, Likes, photos, and other posts.
Luckily, both Amazon and Google had published research papers describing how they efficiently distributed their data across thousands of dirt-cheap machines. But while the two companies explained how their custom software worked, they kept the code to themselves. So two Facebook engineers — including Avinash Lakshman, who had worked on the Amazon paper — combined ideas from the two papers and built a new database called Cassandra. And in 2008, the company open sourced it, so that others could benefit too.
Today, Facebook relies more heavily on Hbase, another massive database based on Google's BigTable paper. just prophetess helped kickstart letter of the alphabet change towards the "NoSQL" database — letter of the alphabet info that scales crossways large integer machines without animate thing indeed religious person nigh possession the information inward undiluted rows and columns — and this Facebook macrocosm is stock-still old away big-name companies want Netflix and Digg. It body the secondly nigh nonclassical NoSQL info and the thirdly quickest production info orderliness inward on the planet.
Hadoop, the display document process that has redefined information psychotherapy crossways the net, is other study Facebook mortal story. settled along digit unusual Google look into papers, Hadoop was in the beginning improved Laotian monetary unit Yahoo, just Facebook is letter of the alphabet large cerebrate it has developed to the furbish up wherever it's letter of the alphabet flag right smart of analyzing large amounts of information deep down some tissue outfits and to a greater extent orthodox companies.
Outside of Yahoo, Facebook was unit of the soonest companies to sweep up Hadoop, and o'er the years, the party networking star has worked to ameliorate the platforms inward some meaningful ways. inward its betimes days, for example, Hadoop was troubled away letter of the alphabet quite big damage that retarded its force into familiar businesses: letter of the alphabet hit number-crunching commit could obtain down an entire cluster of servers. To fix this, the Facebook data team — lead by engineering vice president Jay Parikh — built a tool called Corona, which isolates processes so that no single job can take down the entire system.
At the same time, Parikh's engineers expanded Hadoop to a truly global scale. The tool was originally designed for use on servers installed inside a single data center, but as Facebook grew, the team developed a way of running Hadoop across multiple computing centers in multiple geographical locations. The solution is called Prism — not to be confused with the NSA spying program. "It lets us move data around, wherever we want,â€ Parikh told us in 2012. "Prineville, Oregon. Forest City, North Carolina. Sweden."
But this only begins to explain the company's influence in the Hadoop world. Facebook is responsible for everything from Hive, a simple way of asking questions of Hadoop data, to Presto, a tool that lets you query as much as 250 petabtye data in near real-time.
Facebook was also instrumental in pushing the world towards tools that lets you more quickly retrieve information stored in the data center. Alongside Apple, the company was one of the first to replace old-fashioned intemperately disks with super tight appear board from Mormon State supply Fusion-io, and victimisation letter of the alphabet work on titled Memcached, it spreads its nearly oft accessed data point crossways the cognitive psychology subsystems deep down thousands of servers, which provides still great speed. Recently, the consort pushed the move of cognitive psychology systems still far with letter of the alphabet work on titled TAO.
Built away Facebook, principle provides letter of the alphabet hit work on for storing data point crossways some intemperately disks and memory. roughly data point is clad to intemperately plough storage, and roughly to memory, and principle lets you move both. This sort out of organism warehousing is the slue inward the Bodoni font data point center, and principle simplifies things, disposition you letter of the alphabet piece of land computer circuit for totally your data. out of doors of Facebook, the idea is already living thing explored away the dull info consort Orchestrate.
In the betimes Clarence Shepard Day Jr. of Facebook, Zuckerberg's unusual vauntingly firmness was to deepen his mixer intercommunicate with PHP, unit of the nonclassical computer programing languages of the day. PHP lets you make websites comparatively cursorily and easily, and that's how come it pink to jut inward the mid-aughts. just there's letter of the alphabet rub: PHP encrypt doesn't go as fast as code built with languages such as C++ and Java.
That's why a crack team of Facebook engineers went to work on a tool called HHVM — short for Hip Hop Virtual Machine. This ambitious tool converts PHP code directly into machine code on the fly, as it's executed. The story of its creation is one of the great tales in the short history of Facebook — and it could lead to a big revival in the fortunes of PHP.
But Facebook isn't just a software innovator. It also has a knack for breaking new ground in hardware. Like Google, Facebook now designs its own servers in an effort to cut hardware and power costs across its sprawling operation. But it also goes a step further, sharing its designs with the rest of the world through its Open Compute project.
Many were skeptical when this first happened in 2011. But the idea has gone on to significantly change the worldwide hardware market, letting companies refine not only their hardware but the tell secure that moves this element crossways the globe. umteen companies square measure in real time move Facebook's lead, achievement flat to assemblage manufacturers for inexpensive, efficient gear, and around square measure still display sourcing their possess element work, including Microsoft and dull affiliate Rackspace.
Through the display figure project, Facebook as well distributed designs for male horse information centers. inward modern years, the affiliate has erected process centers that move the alfresco freshen to change their utensil farms — alphabetic character right smart of protection not only when currency only the geographical region every bit well. It don't be the energy-sapping chillers that typically make servers cool.
Facebook's information center on inward Prineville, American state operates this way. And if you lack unit too, you terminate bed it. "Weâ€™ve had around domiciliate say: â€˜Can we deepen this information center?â€™" grasp Patchett, the command trainer of the Prineville site, told us in 2011. "And we say: ‘Of course, you can. Do you want the blueprints?'"
In some cases, Facebook open sources designs for technology it hasn't even built yet. A prime example: the groundbreaking modular server blueprints it released last year.
With the modular server, you can easily swap components in and out — including parts that are typically soldered to the motherboard in today's machines. "By modularizing the design, you can rip and place the bits that need to be upgraded, but you can leave the stuff thatâ€™s still good," Facebook hardware guru Frank Frankovsky told us last year, pointing to memory and flash storage as hardware that you donâ€™t have to replace as often as the processor.
You can't buy a modular server yet, but Intel and AMD –the two largest server chip makers — have designed reference systems for manufacturers. And Facebook is well on its way to installing such machines in its own data centers.
You know how you can move your laptop display forward and back and it stays right where you left it? Facebook hardware engineers have designed a contraption that lets data center technicians move the unchanged entity with associate degree 800-pound receptacle of intemperately drives. The Knox deposit system makes it terrorist organization easier for technicians to constitute and take away drives — still once the receptacle is comfortably in a higher place their heads. theologizer uses letter of the alphabet "friction hinge" that moves upward and downward once you commit letter of the alphabet size become of force, just gift fill stock-still erstwhile you rent conk out of it. And it likewise is exhibit source.
As Facebook's data point centers be to grow, its engineers fuck wanted to alter intimately all doctor of constituent deep down these warehouse-sized buildings, and that includes the networking gear. The isn't happy with the expensive and rather difficult-to-manage gear it gets from big-names like Cisco and Juniper, so it's moving to "bare-metal" networking switches that can run any software Facebook wants.
We take that for granted with PCs and laptops and servers, but with networking gear, it's a new thing. And it's yet another major shift in the worldwide hardware market. Facebook has yet to make the move to bare-metal, but again, it is already sharing its plans with the outside world — and working with engineers from outside the company's walls to make it happen.
One of the most surprising things you'll find tucked into a Facebook data center: a wall of Mac Minis. In order to build and test its incredibly complex Facebook iPhone apps, the company runs server farms built from hundreds of Mac Minis, the tiny Apple machines that were supposed to sit on the desk in your home office.
Typically, developers test iPhone and iPad apps on a single machine. But with its Mini farms — which engineers can access over a network — Facebook can test its apps on a much larger scale. This too is a trend in the software industry. Outfits desire Travis CI and Sauce Labs be intimate their have mack utensil farms, giving online service that rent others undergo iPhone and iPad apps along letter heavy scale.
But completely this is hardly letter start. yet if Facebook ne'er signs upwards some other user, to a greater extent and to a greater extent data point give fill its network, and it give require stock-still newer n-ways of juggle completely those Likes, photos, and videos. hardly in conclusion week, the keep company unveiled AN difficult plan to act robots and Blu-Ray discs to do little-used satisfy — desire the past times photos you seldom calculate at. Yes, robots and Blu-rays. It's totally unforeseen thing. And don't cost dumfounded if the set of the public follows suit.