Light Reading
Facebook's load balancing is designed to keep its servers running at a moderate speed -- not too slow.

Facebook Slashes Data Center Power Consumption

Mitch Wagner
8/8/2014
50%
50%

Facebook is developing a new traffic management technology called Autoscale to optimize energy consumption by 10-15% at its data centers.

Facebook currently uses a traditional round-robin approach to load balancing, but found that was less than optimal, because servers running low-level loads use power more inefficiently than idle servers or servers running at moderate or greater loads, writes Qiang Wu, Facebook infrastructure software engineer, on the Facebook Code Engineering Blog.

Autoscale is designed to optimize workloads so that servers are either idling, or running at medium capacity. It tries to avoid assigning workloads in a way that results in servers running at low capacity, Wu writes.

An idle server consumes about 60 watts. It takes a big power hit, to 130 watts, when it jumps to low-level CPU utilization, for a small number of requests per second. But it only takes a small power hit, to 150 watts, when it goes from low-level to medium-level CPU utilization, Wu writes.

Therefore, from a power-efficiency perspective, we should try to avoid running a server at low RPS and instead try to run at medium RPS.

To tackle this problem and utilize power more efficiently, we changed the way that load is distributed to the different web servers in a cluster. The basic idea of Autoscale is that instead of a purely round-robin approach, the load balancer will concentrate workload to a server until it has at least a medium-level workload. If the overall workload is low (like at around midnight), the load balancer will use only a subset of servers. Other servers can be left running idle or be used for batch-processing workloads.

Though the idea sounds simple, it is a challenging task to implement effectively and robustly for a large-scale system.

Autoscale dynamically adjusts the size of the server pool in use, so that each active server will get at least a medium-level CPU load. Servers not in the active pool don't receive traffic.


Power up your data center knowledge on Light Reading's data center infrastructure channel


Optimizing both performance and power consumption was key in developing decision logic for traffic management: "On one hand, we want to maximize the energy-saving opportunity. On the other, we don't want to over-concentrate the traffic in a way that could affect site performance."

Results have been promising:

Autoscale led to a 27% power savings around midnight (and, as expected, the power saving was 0% around peak hours). The average power saving over a 24-hour cycle is about 10-15% for different web clusters.

Normalized power consumption for a production web cluster with and without Autoscale. Source: Facebook.
Normalized power consumption for a production web cluster with and without Autoscale. Source: Facebook.

Facebook is driving open source data center hardware design with its own Open Compute project. The project is self-serving -- Facebook runs among the most massive data centers in the world, and data center cost savings improves Facebook's bottom line. Facebook says it has saved $1.2 billion over three years using the Open Compute hardware designs it champions. (See Open Compute Project Takes on Networking.)

Earlier this week, Facebook bought PrivateCore, a security software company, to beef up its server security. (See Facebook Buys PrivateCore for Server Security.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/12/2014 | 2:23:27 PM
Re: good news for Facebook
With the millions of users that Facebook has bagged over he years, it is good to know that they have found a way to improve their data centers. Facebook is used world wide and they make a lot of profit but this new occurrence will no doubt help them to cut costs and probably boost their earnings by a great percentage. It is a wonder that they did not do this sooner.
brooks7
50%
50%
brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/11/2014 | 11:44:17 AM
Re: Not been done before ?
Dennis,

Note, that the applications that people like Amazon and Google do are diverse.  It may not be as easy to eliminate compute power in that environment.  Scaling computing and storage in those environments might have very different curves.

seven

 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/11/2014 | 11:39:05 AM
Re: Not been done before ?
Maybe they have but choose not to crow about it. Or maybe they haven't. The point of the story was to highlight what FB is doing to improve its efficiency and margins.
Whatdoyouwant
50%
50%
Whatdoyouwant,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/11/2014 | 11:31:47 AM
Re: Not been done before ?
I meant by the industry in general.  Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc..   none of these guys have figured this out ?
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/11/2014 | 10:36:51 AM
Re: Not been done before ?
When your growth is in triple digits, you don't worry so much about sweating down costs. That comes with maturity. Now that Facebook is a public company, it has to focus more on stuff like margins.
Whatdoyouwant
50%
50%
Whatdoyouwant,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/11/2014 | 9:46:42 AM
Not been done before ?
Is it me or does this seem like something that would have been done a long time ago ?
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/9/2014 | 6:31:59 PM
Re: Something good from Facebook
I did not realize that the optimum power consumption for a server instance was at medium level capacity. This is really useful - something that hardware designers and cloud service providers should usel to optimize machines and cut costs.

More and more services are being powered through the cloud - which means there is huge opportunity to slash operating expenses. 
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/9/2014 | 11:36:47 AM
Re: Something good from Facebook
Just think of the cost they are cutting with this! It really is impressive. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/9/2014 | 9:01:31 AM
Something good from Facebook
Congratulations to Facebook for figuring out how to make its data centers more efficient. Do you think there's a similar potential for energy cost savings for network operators that deploy virtualization?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (1) comment


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection – That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive