Forget the way we live and share on Facebook. The biggest innovation at the social network may be in back-end plumbing and innovative pricing. It is starting to affect the rest of the tech industry.
Behind the cat photos and Oscar opinions of one billion humans is Facebook’s burgeoning network of data centers. As complex as managing people’s personal data and sending them ads is, the company tries to buy from a relatively small number of suppliers, whom it keeps on a short leash.
“In computing at this scale, the data center is a factory floor,” says Frank Frankovsky, vice president of hardware design and supply chain at Facebook. “We try to keep things simple.”