Facebook is to open a "cold storage" facility at its datacentre in Prineville, Oregon, to provide a lower cost repository for its users' old and infrequently accessed photographs and videos.
"The origination of cold storage is that we have all of these photos and our contract with users states that we can't delete the data when it's not accessed," said Jay Parikh, vice president for infrastructure and engineering at Facebook.
He added: "We get about seven petabytes of new photo content uploaded every month. We get about 300 million photos uploaded every day from our users and, with the adoption of mobile around the world, all of these trends are getting bigger."
Not only must Facebook store and maintain the integrity of all that data, it needs to remain near-instantly accessible – ruling out cheaper storage alternatives such as tape.
Cold storage is part of a wider datacentre strategy intended to both reduce the cost and improve the operational and energy efficiency of building and running datacentres. The strategy is being shared under the Facebook-led Open Compute Initiative.
"We are working on a new infrastructure from the ground up – a different type of datacentre, a different type of storage hardware, and a network that connects it all," Parikh told the GigaOM Structure:Europe conference this week.
The Open Compute Initiative and the development of the cold storage facility is part of an operational and public relations "arms race" between the major internet companies to demonstrate their efficiency and "green" credentials.
"A lot of the technologies that we have been talking about, like cold storage, need lots of storage space, but not so much power," said Parikh. "We can't disrupt or change the API that our product engineers use to store their blogs, videos and attachments in their messages. We don't want to change that or service response times. The software underneath all that needs to seamlessly handle migration of this data."