Feeds

'Amazon can't do what we do': Twitter-miner's BYO data centre heresy

DataSift strains with Hadoop

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Sometimes floating on somebody else’s cloud isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to float alone – no matter how young you are. DataSift, the five-year-old big data company mining billions of tweets and Wikipedia edits, reckons it’s just one year away from building its own data centre.

DataSift sucks down 2TB of data from Twitter each day while it has two-and-a-half years' worth of Twitter data – 90 billion tweets – sitting on Hadoop servers. DataSift has also launched Wikistats, tracking trends on Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales’ crowd-surfing site. Wikistats records edits, peaking at up to 100 a second.

Nick Halstead, DataSift's founder and chief technology officer, reckons the cost and complexity of his current co-located and mixed set-up, means a data centre is on the cards – and soon. He ruled out a move to using a public cloud option, based on performance and cost.

“You can’t run what we run on Amazon from a cost and performance perspective,” he told The Reg during an interview.

DataSift wouldn’t be the first company working at what’s called “web scale” to build its own data centre, but it is possibly the youngest, the smallest (30 employees) and probably the only tech venture in today’s environment doing so with the potential assistance of venture capital.

Facebook was founded in 2004 and has just spent hundreds of millions building its own centres in Oregon, North Carolina and Sweden, although it still uses third parties in California and Virginia. Twitter, founded in 2006 last year, picked Utah for its first data centre. eBay, hailing from the dot-com era, is building a $287m data centre, also in Utah.

But why would they do this, when those pushing public clouds – such as Salesforce – are so emphatic that in this era of cheap and (ahem, Amazon) reliable data centres, building your own no longer makes financial or organisational sense?

Owning your own can mean lower costs in the long run with access to cheaper power, custom designed cooling and servers, and abundant capacity for expansion.

Server sanity

In DataSift’s case, it also means consolidation and sanity, with a potentially simpler network infrastructure that comes at a lower cost.

DataSift has its own 10 Hewlett-Packard racks plus 240 Dell racks run by Pulsant at two data centres in Reading, near Microsoft. The servers have 936 CPU cores and data filtering nodes can process up to 10,000 unique streams to keep up with what’s being said and deliver results.

Halstead has additional racks in reserve, ready to deploy, but reckons he already spends “a lot” of money on hardware. The real problem, Halstead says, isn’t the cost of rack space but what he calls “very complex” networking. DataSift uses the open-source Java Hadoop framework to process and serve terabytes of tweets and Wiki updates across its distributed, clustered servers. Hadoop means speed, but it’s never been a pushover to install and administer, as founder Doug Cutting told us here.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: Hadoop strain

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.