Facebook plans €200m data centre for Meath – begins recruiting engineers

19 May 2015

There is mounting evidence Facebook is planning to build a €200m data centre at Clonee in Co Meath. The social network is hiring electrical engineers with data centre experience to work at its Irish operations.

Reports at the weekend indicated that Facebook is about to file for planning permission to build a 200,000 sq ft data centre in Clonee in Co Meath.

Once opened, the data centre could employ up to 100 people.

The move follows similar efforts by Google and Microsoft to build data centres west of Dublin that can tap into the region’s electricity grid but which could also take advantage of the prevailing westerly winds to power and cool the data centres.

In recent months, Apple has revealed plans to build an €850m data centre in Athenry in Galway. It has emerged that Apple will also directly fund at least six Irish renewable energy projects, amounting to a potential additional investment of €400m.

Facebook already operates an energy-efficient data centre in Sweden that can be remotely controlled by engineers based in Dublin using an internal Facebook technology known as Cyborg.

So while there have been reports of a data centre to be built by Facebook, the company could also be planning to build a data centre team that could remotely manage data centres in various locations.

Three years ago, Facebook started the Open Compute Project (OCF) with the goal of building one of the most efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest possible cost.

As a result, the company has saved US$1.3bn by focusing on efficient designs and using open-source technologies.

With more than 1.2bn people worldwide using the social network – two thirds of whom use mobile – who have uploaded more than 300bn photos, the social network is no doubt continuously looking at managing and growing its infrastructure in a cost-effective way.

The company has been exploring novel ways of storing all of this data, including making use of racks of Blu-Ray discs in 10,000-disc configurations capable of storing up to a petabyte of data.

On the Facebook Careers page the social network is advertising a position for an electrical design engineer who will become part of its data centre engineering team.

The social network also advertised a position for an optical technical support engineer based in Dublin who will deploy an optical network that will span regional metros and subsea networks to connect with data centres and points of presence across many regions. The position requires technical knowledge of various data centre electrical and cooling configurations. Interestingly it also requires the ability to lift or move 30-40Ibs on a daily basis.

Another position available in Dublin is a data centre systems programme manager that will require working with teams in the main office and data centres and frequent trips to Facebook’s main office in Menlo Park, California.

One of the jobs advertised contained the following description: “Our data centres are the foundation upon which our software operates with efficient ease. Building and operating data centres the ‘right’ way from the day they go live is synonymous with ensuring capacity availability and capital conservatism. The data centre design engineering team approaches facility design from the chips on the server boards to the facility mechanical and electrical distribution systems that ensure and maximise efficiency of our computer infrastructure. This position is full-time and located in our Dublin office.”

While reports suggest the data centre could be located close to Dublin, it is one of the ironies of history that Menlo Park in Silicon Valley where Facebook is headquartered owes its origins to two Irish emigrants in the 19th century called Dennis Oliver and his brother-in-law DC McGlynn from the village of Menlo (Menlough, or ‘small lake’ as Gaeilge) in Galway. They bought a 1,700-acre tract of land in the 1850s, 48 kilometres south of San Francisco.

That tract of land is now headquarters to many Silicon Valley giants as well as Sand Hill Road, where the world’s biggest venture capitalists are headquartered.

Data centre image via Shutterstock


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years