I love the fact that Facebook is about to build it’s first data centre outside of the United States in one of the most unlikely tech destinations in the world, but it all makes such beautiful sense.

Up until 2009 Facebook leased space in data centres but then made the decision to design and build its own.

And the huge computing power required to give life to the almost 1 billion users of the vastly populated social networking service is simply staggering (and makes Net Island’s 5 servers look a little pitiful!) So, where did they choose? A major city like London perhaps? Or Paris with it’s excellent data infrastructure?

Nope. Of course not. This is, after all, Facebook! They opted for a place called Lulea. Where I hear you cry? I asked that too!

Lulea is close to the home of Santa Claus, and is in one of Europe’s coldest environments, in Lapland. It’s a very cleverly planned decision, because the climate there is ideal for running such a massive data centre. The new centre will be powered primarily by renewable energy and will require 70% less generator power.

More and more companies are placing their data centres in Northern Europe because the climate works well for the cooling systems necessitated by racks of huge servers. Facebook though is a major player and a massive coup for the area. And Facebook prides itself on the fact that its engineers have built its infrastructure from scratch – including the design of the servers themselves.

According to a statement by Facebook, assembling the servers is like building a Lego model, the parts snap together. “The servers slot in and out of their racks by flipping a couple of catches,” the firm explained. The design of the fans mean they consume far less energy than a traditional server.

Temperatures in the city of Lulea, in the north-east of the country, ensures that they won’t have to artificially cool the server network for up to 10 months a year, but rather filter the natural outside temperatures around their mighty machines. The facility will process data from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It will cover 30,000 square metres and is a pretty amazing thing.

I wonder who will follow, and isn’t it amazing that a country that didn’t appear to offer a great deal to the technology sector, actually makes perfect sense? With increasing electricity prices and an ever more environmentally conscious world, this could be the one place on the planet with enough going for it to power the future of the Internet.

Peter Graham