Mozilla’s new Phoenix data center.


Short story:

We’re building out a data center presence in Phoenix, Arizona!

This quarter we will be building out an initial six rack deployment (~80 servers) at i/o Data Center’s Phoenix ONE.

This will give Mozilla another top tier data center on the same scale as our current primary location in San Jose, California.  By the end of March we will have a number of our most popular websites & services focused on delivering Firefox running out of both San Jose and Phoenix. This will let us grow in crazy ways and lessen the likelyhood of site-wide failures causing complete outages.

Long story:

Sometime towards the end of last summer I started asking if the time was right for Mozilla to build out a second full data center. We have two satellites (Amsterdam & Beijing) but both of those rely on the San Jose, CA data center.

I started by asking a couple questions:

  • Are we at the scale where downtime is unacceptable?
  • Are there certain websites/services that should never go offline?
  • What’s the 3-5 year plan look like? How do we scale to 2000 servers? 5000?

Basically, is it time to build out another data center?

I also looked at the last three years of growth.

Data center history

Since 2006, we’ve tripled the amount of data center floor space (and tripled our IT/Ops team), grew our user base 8.75 times and now push 18x the bandwidth.

Sure, in comparison to other sites, this growth is small.  It’s no Facebook.  But it’s still a significant amount of infrastructure that supports 350m users and the world’s most popular web browser (we’re at about one engineer to 43.7m users (or one to 100 servers)).

At the beginning of the quarter we made the strategic decision to open a second full production data center to act as a DR, or fail over, site to San Jose (it’ll be more than just DR – we’re planning on running production sites out of both locations).

For all intents and purposes this will be our first remote full production data center and I wanted to concentrate on somewhere that was a day trip away from the Bay Area. We’re using the same design philosophy we’ve used at the others –

We’re essentially lazy and never want to physically go to the data center. Instead we have built out a lot of remote management capabilities to make this work.  In fact, half of the IT group doesn’t even live in California.

I spent the last couple months researching and touring data center space and, in the process, three things become apparent in their importance in choosing a data center:

  1. Connectivity
  2. Connectivity
  3. Power (and the ability to cool it)

Without #1 (or even #2), game over man.  Carrier neutral data centers are king, Ethernet hand-offs rule and the question is less about how much space I need than it is about how much power I need.

i/o Data Center met all three of these requirements and is an easy “day trip” away.  As I mentioned earlier, by the end of March we will have a number of our most popular websites & services focused on delivering Firefox running out of both San Jose and Phoenix.  I hope to update on our progress throughout the quarter.

– mz

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Categories: Mozilla

4 responses

  1. Rafael wrote on :

    Road Trip!

  2. Balakumar Muthu wrote on :

    Thanks for giving us an insider look of Mozilla data center.

  3. Gen Kanai wrote on :

    Looks like our new AZ colo made the news 🙂

  4. Nick wrote on :

    Phoenix must be one of the hottest cities in North America. If power/cooling is important, doesn’t this make it a strange place for a data center.