It takes a lot of technical chops to run an operation the size of Facebook.
Some 618 million people use Facebook every day and they use it to play games, post news and photos. Consider this: Facebook currently stores more than 240 billion photos.
All told, Facebook will spend $1.8 billion in 2013 on its IT needs mostly on servers, data centers, and infrastructure, it said.
A lot of what Facebook needs to operate its massive web site has never been done before, so It has to invent its own technology. And then Facebook often simply gives away the tech it creates, as open source projects.
Facebook benefits by sharing its tech freely like that. Other companies use it, improve it and share back. Sometimes Facebook doesn’t invent a technology, but adopts another open source project and then becomes a major force working on it.
Through all of this behind-the-scenes work, Facebook is slowly, and radically, changing the entire tech scene.
Facebook invented a new way to build computer servers called Open Compute
Facebook’s Open Compute Project is revolutionizing the $55 billion server industry.
OCP has created a new type of server that costs less to build and operate and uses fewer materials. More importantly, it’s a new way to design servers in a free and open source way.
OCP servers are really pushing the boundaries of server design and creating a new ecosystem of companies who build and sell these servers.
Facebook created new kind of database called Cassandra
Cassanda is a noSQL database that Facebook engineers Prashant Malik and Avinash Lakshman developed. Facebook gave it to the Apache Foundation where anyone can use it.
A noSQL is a new type of database that uses low-cost servers and storage and can work with all kinds of documents.
There are a number of noSQL databases around, but Cassandra is a popular one, used by at Netflix, eBay, Twitter, Reddit, Cisco and many others.
Facebook adopted and pushed the hottest new big data technology: Hadoop
Hadoop is one of the hottest technologies at the core of the big data phenomenon. Facebook didn’t create Hadoop (Yahoo did), but it did adopt it, becoming a big role model that convinced others to use it, too.
And then Facebook rolled up its sleeves and became one of Hadoop’s biggest contributors.
That lead Facebook to invent other new technologies to improve it, giving those technologies away for free, too.