SalesForce.com – 3 data centers and about 1,000 servers

Previous two posts were talking about Google back-end data centers and the number of servers they are running. In this post I will try to explore a totally different approach to data centers applied by SalesForce.com (NYSE:CRM).

In a public quote by SalesForce.com CEO from May 2010, the company announced intentions to open a new data center in Japan. The move is done to better support Japanese regulations that require some companies to store customer information inside the physical country boarders of Japan (Salesforce.com to Open Tokyo Data Center). In a side note, they also repeated the fact that the company is operating two US data centers, one in Silicon Valley, and the second in Virginia. And a third data center is located in Singapore to support regional customers there. That is all. Since we are talking about a SaaS giant supporting more than 70,000 customers this is strange. In contrast to Google 30+ estimated data centers this is suggesting very different approach to what is known as internet scale.

Searching for some answers I found the next difference in an article titled The Efficient Cloud from TechCrunch, the company stated (at least true to the March 2009 date) that all of Force.com platform was running on only 1,000 servers. And these servers were mirrored so really we are talking about 500 operational servers and additional 500 servers in standby mode.

What is also different between the Google approach and the Force.com approach?
Well, the servers themselves. Google is building their own propriety servers, using standard components but the cooling system is done on a container level that runs 1,000 servers and many of the traditional components that you will see in every sever were removed.

So what does Force.com does?
Apparently, they started with heavy duty Sun machines, but over the last 3 years have transition to a configuration of strong x86 machines. Surprisingly, they are using regular machines from Dell, the Dell PowerEdge R905 with AMD Opteron processors (see video describing the configuration).

Dell PowerEdge R905Dell PowerEdge R905

Looking at the Dell site for more information on the servers reveal just standard things, technical specifications include:

  • AMD OpteronTM Processors Options with up to Six-Core AMD OpteronTM Processors.
  • Chipset from Broadcom HT-2100 and HT-1100 server
  • Memory up to 256GB2 (32 DIMM slots)

Clearly very different approach but we have to remember that Google and SalesForce core businesses is very different with different operational characteristics and so different architecture makes sense. One example of the different needs is scalability. Force.com is serving about 2 million users while Google is serving hundreds of million users if not more. Will be interesting to see if SalesForce.com will reevaluate some of their architecture decisions as the number of users and number of customers continue to dramatically increase…

To conclude this blog here is a quick table to summarize some to the differences:

Comparing Google to SalesForce.Com architecture
Comparing Google to SalesForce.Com architecture
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Author: dave

Consider myself kid in soul and naive by choice. I am interested in people, technology and business and thrive when they all work together. My favorite quote and motto is that “You can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time” ― Bob Marley

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