Twitter says it is opening new network data center in Salt Lake City

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Twitter opening data center in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — Twitter Inc. has announced — in a tweet, of course — that it will build a huge data center in Utah, making it the latest company to set up computer-intensive operations in a state with cheap electricity and a business-friendly reputation.

The San Francisco-based company’s engineering program manager, Jean-Paul Cozzatti, announced Wednesday that Twitter’s technical operations would move to the Salt Lake City area.

Cozzatti said the move was necessary for the microblogging website to keep up with demand for a service with about 100 million users worldwide.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the state’s tech-savvy work force makes it perfect for companies like Twitter.

Twitter will “contribute to the development of critical mass in our software and technology economic cluster, which has already attracted companies such as Oracle and eBay and has enabled Omniture and others to prosper,” Herbert said Thursday.

Orem-based Omniture Inc., now owned by software maker Adobe Systems Inc., analyzes traffic for other companies’ websites.

The state’s utility, Rocky Mountain Power, was reluctant because of confidentiality reasons to confirm arrangements it would have to make for yet another data center in its service territory.

“Typically when a customer wants to locate here, they talk to us — there are certain infrastructure requirements which they must pay,” said utility spokesman Dave Eskelsen, who avoided any mention of Twitter.

“We have seen these facilities look to our service area because our prices are low — we’re in the lower fifth nationwide for electricity prices. It’s only understandable that people with largest electricity needs would look to Utah,” he said.

Most of Utah’s power comes from coal-fired plants that export a lot of the electricity to other states.

Salt Lake City and its suburbs also are becoming a hub for large data centers because of the region’s high-speed communications networks, which can process large volumes of data quickly:

— Internet auction site eBay Inc. announced in 2008 it will build a data center in Draper.

— Oracle Corp., a major supplier of computer software and hardware, is building a $300 million data center in West Jordan.

— The National Security Agency is planning Utah’s largest data center, a 65-megawatt operation at Camp Williams, a sprawling National Guard site about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. The government plans to award a construction contract in September.

Twitter’s plans were first reported by the Deseret News of Salt Lake City. Twitter spokesman Matt Graves told the newspaper that the Utah center is the first “custom” data center Twitter plans to open over the next two years.

Twitter’s social networking website lets people share information in “tweets,” or messages limited to 140 characters. More than 300,000 people sign up for a Twitter account every day — a rate of growth that has strained the privately held company’s computer servers.

“Keeping pace with these users and their Twitter activity presents some unique and complex engineering challenges,” Cozzatti said in his blog. “Having dedicated data centers will give us more capacity to accommodate this growth in users and activity on Twitter.”

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