The social media company says how much it spends on servers and data centers in its IPO regulatory filing.
MENLO PARK, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Facebook, which is planning for the biggest technology IPO later this year, gave a rare glimpse into its tech infrastructure in its regulatory filing.
The social networker explained that it stores more than 100 petabytes of photos and videos within its IT systems. By way of comparison, a single petabye stored on CD-ROMs would create a pile of discs more than a mile high, according to the Library of Congress.
"As our user base grows, and the level of engagement and sharing from our users continues to increase, our computing needs continue to expand," explained Facebook, in the S-1, hinting at a payday for companies fortunate enough to supply the Internet giant. "We expect to continue to incur increasing costs, in particular for servers, storage, power, and data centers, to support our anticipated future growth."
Facebook keeps its list of technology partners close to its chest, although storage specialist Fusion-io(:FIO), which sells Solid State Disk (SSD) technology, is a known supplier. SSDs offer users faster data-access speeds than traditional hard disk drives and lower power and cooling costs than other storage methods.
According to its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook spent $606 million in 2011 on servers, networking equipment, storage infrastructure, and the construction of data centers.
"In 2011, we began serving our products from data centers owned by Facebook using servers specifically designed for us," explained Facebook. "We plan to continue to significantly expand the size of our infrastructure, primarily through data centers that we design and own."
Last year the Data Center Knowledge Web site reported that Facebook uses custom-built servers containing Intel(:INTC) and AMD(:AMD) chips at its new data center in Prineville, Ore. The servers feature motherboards and chassis technology from Taiwanese firm Quanta Computer, the Web site added.
In its S-1, Facebook explained that it uses a shared computing infrastructure to support its services. "We use a combination of off-the-shelf and custom software running on clusters of commodity computers to amass substantial computing capability," it added.
For managing large quantities of data, the company has developed a data warehouse technology called Apache Hive, built on top of Hadoop open source software.
As for the broader technology market, Facebook described the competitive landscape for its products, acknowledging that it's fighting a multi-front war.
"We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business, including from companies such as Google(:GOOG), Microsoft(:MSFT), and Twitter, the company said. "We compete broadly with Google's social networking offerings, including Google+, and also with other, largely regional, social networks that have strong positions in particular countries, including Cyworld in Korea, Mixi in Japan, Orkut (owned by Google) in Brazil and India, and vKontakte in Russia."
Facebook also predicted stiff competition from companies such as Renren(:RENN), Sina(:SINA) and Tencent if it expands operations into China.
--Written by James Rogers in New York.
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