Twitter reportedly buying major additional space at RagingWire data center in Sacramento

Published: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 8:36 am

Online social networking powerhouse Twitter reportedly is doing a major expansion at RagingWire Data Centers' 500,000-square-foot campus in Sacramento.

A May 10 post by Rich Miller on www.datacenter- knowledge.com, citing industry sources, said San Francisco-based Twitter "is leasing a huge chunk of additional space in Sacramento" and has "locked down more than 20 megawatts of space for a long-term expansion of its infrastructure" locally.

The post characterized the transaction as potentially "among the largest wholesale deals in industry history."

The post noted that Twitter has had a Sacramento presence since 2010, and the social networking service company reportedly wants to grow its infrastructure in phases.

Mike Moreno, principal energy adviser for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, confirmed Wednesday that SMUD is working with RagingWire on a 25-megawatt expansion. He said a new 32-megawatt substation is being constructed and will likely be powered up this fall.

Moreno said he could not comment on any RagingWire clients.

He did say that RagingWire is SMUD's largest private energy user and No. 3 overall, trailing only the state and Sacramento County, respectively. RagingWire's energy use is a byproduct of thousands of computer servers running 24/7.

"SMUD and RagingWire have a tremendous relationship," Moreno said. "They're very energy-efficient, and we'll be using the most efficient green technologies (in the expansion)."

In 2011, RagingWire was awarded $155,450 in energy savings rebates from SMUD.

As industrial-scale data storage is becoming a necessity for many companies, some are opting to lease data center space from existing entities as opposed to building their own facilities.

Twitter famously limits individual tweets to 140 characters, but it manages hundreds of millions of tweets from tens of millions of users daily.

Twitter sometimes has to handle monster traffic jams of tweets, usually occurring during major sports or news events. During November's U.S. presidential election, tweets peaked at a rate of more than 15,000 a second.

RagingWire operates vast banks of computer servers in tightly secured buildings with few windows. It's an intentionally low-profile business, and RagingWire has consistently declined to reveal its customer list, typically citing security concerns.

On Wednesday, RagingWire spokesman Jim Leach declined to comment on the online report, repeating that RagingWire does not discuss specific clients. He would only say that the company anticipates future growth at all its data center sites.

Responding to an email inquiry, Twitter spokeswoman Christina Thiry wrote: "We don't have anything to share on this."

Privately held RagingWire was founded in the Natomas area 13 years ago, providing off-site computing services to corporate clients.

Early on, the company marketed its ability to store a mountain of data from notable Bay Area companies (including Fortune 500 firms in Silicon Valley), its distance from prime Bay Area earthquake zones and comparatively cheap electric rates through SMUD – 25 percent to 50 percent cheaper than those in the Bay Area.

Over the past few years, RagingWire has received major infusions of funding – including $140 million in financing in early 2012 – to foster growth.

In October, its $20 million offer to acquire 75 acres of land in Ashburn, Va., was approved by government officials, clearing the way for the company to build a 750,000- square-foot data center in phases on the site. The planned facility is separate from a 150,000-square-foot center that opened July 31, 2012, in Ashburn.

RagingWire officials have long contended that large, secure data center facilities will be needed to handle the ever-growing wave of cloud-computing and companies' ballooning data-management requirements.

Major players Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have leased space, but all three also have invested in building their own data centers.

The Data Center Knowledge website also noted that Twitter added about 100,000 square feet of space in a Quality Technology Services facility in Atlanta late last year. That QTS site, one of the world's largest server facilities, has nearly 1 million square feet.

Early this year, QTS acquired Herakles LLC, operator of an Internet data center in Sacramento.

Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Mark Glover





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