Facebook Joins Netflix in Helping ISPs Deliver Content Efficiently

Facebook is going to be offering its own edge servers soon in an effort to help deliver photos and other services — and avoid messages like this one.

GigaOm reported today that Facebook has plans to deploy servers inside ISP data centers to help deliver its growing collection of photos and other future services.

This is similar to an announcement from Netflix we covered in this blog earlier this month. Netflix announced it was building open source servers, which ISPs could install in their data centers to help them deal with traffic volume from Netflix.

Similarly, Facebook plans to build edge servers, which can help deal with traffic to its growing picture collection, which is only likely to get bigger with its purchase of Instagram in April. People have always loved sharing pictures on Facebook, but Instagram could take it to another level entirely.

Just how many pictures are we talking about? According to statistics from Royal Pingdom, there were an estimated 100 billion photos on Facebook at this time last year. Royal Pingdom also reported that there were 60 new photos uploaded to Instagram per second in 2011, and that was before it developed an Android app and well before it was purchased by Facebook.

The 2010 Royal Pingdom report stated Facebook users were uploading 3 billion pictures per month. If things remained equal throughout last year and Facebook ended up with 200 billion photos, then it would have been collecting more than 16 billion pictures a month. You can see why they might think it’s imperative to find a way to deal with this in a more efficient manner.

Even with its massive popularity, the GigaOM article points out that Facebook (pictures and everything else) comprises just 2 percent of all Web traffic (which just goes to show just how big the Web is).

But for Facebook, like Netflix, it’s all about efficiency and innovation. And according to Facebook’s Frank Frankovsky, Facebook is able to have a single administrator manage an astonishing 10,000 servers. That’s amazingly efficient.

But Frankovsky said these new edge servers could be about more than just photos. While he alluded to some other services that could take advantage of this hardware, he didn’t offer any further information about just what those services might be.

For now, it’s worth noting that these enormous Internet services are looking for new ways to deliver massive amounts of content without slowing down the entire Internet in the process. And the fact that both companies are sharing what they learn with community at large will only help benefit IT pros everywhere because you can learn from these companies and apply it to running more efficient data centers in your companies.

Photo by Nikke Lindqvist. Used under Creative Commons License.

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