Sep 20 2016

Facebook Infrastructure: Inside Data Center Strategy and Development

By Meta Careers
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Rachel Peterson leads Facebook's Infrastructure Data Center Strategy team. Her team manages Facebook's data center portfolio and provides strategic support to identify opportunities for further infrastructure sustainability, efficiency and reliability. Take a look into her experience at Facebook, and how her team is working towards connecting the world.

What is your Facebook story?

I joined Facebook back in 2009 when the company was just about to launch its first data center in Prineville, Oregon. At that time, the entire Data Center team consisted of fewer than 30 team members and Facebook occupied two small co-location footprints in the US. I joined to help build out the site selection program for Facebook's owned data centers. Today, our team comprises over 100 people in multiple locations around the globe.
Fast forward to today, Facebook now owns and operates a large portfolio of data centers, spanning the US, Europe and Asia. The site selection program has successfully launched fifteen massive data centers, and we're committed to powering these data centers with 100% renewable energy. In 2012, we set our first goal of 25% clean and renewable energy in our electricity supply mix in 2015 for all data centers. In 2017, we surpassed 50% clean and renewable energy for all of Facebook's operations. In 2018, we set our next aggressive target — aiming to meet 100% clean and renewable energy for all of Facebook's growing operations by the end of 2020.
It has been really exciting to be at the forefront of this growth, and to build out the team that has played a critical role in growing Facebook's infrastructure. There has never been a dull moment in this amazing journey! Facebook's growth has made it both challenging and fun, and I don't think a day has gone by where I haven't been learning. I love what I do, and I am truly fortunate to work with such an amazing, fun team. Facebook's culture empowers my team to have far-reaching impact, and together we are making the world more opened and data center at a time.
="A dozen members of Facebook's Infrastructure Data Center Strategy team

Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected, what role does your team have in this?

  • Global Energy & Site Selection
    • Leads Facebook's Global Location Strategy and Site Selection efforts based on a number of critical siting criteria, including new renewable energy to support the sites.
    • Manages Facebook's Global Environmental Compliance programs, from site selection throughout operations, including air and water compliance.
    • Leads Facebook's Global Energy programs, from site selection throughout operations, optimizing the energy supply for 100% renewable energy, while assuring fiscal responsibility and reliability.
  • Strategic Planning & Analytics
    • Leads the strategic planning, enabling, and monitoring of the global data center roadmap.
    • Provides data science support to enable strategic decisions and performance optimization across the data center life cycle.
  • Community & Economic Development
    • Leads our community engagement work in locations where we have data centers.
    • Develops and manages policy and risk mitigation strategies to allow for the global expansion of Facebook’s infrastructure footprint.
    • Facebook is committed to being a force for good wherever we work by providing jobs, growing the economy, and supporting programs that benefit the communities we live in.
  • Sustainability
    • Our Sustainability team’s mission is to support Facebook’s ability to operate and grow efficiently and responsibly and empower people to build sustainable communities.
    • Leads company-wide strategy in driving operational excellence from design, construction, and operation of our business. We prioritize efficiency, water conservation, and supply chain excellence and are proud to say our facilities are among the most water and energy efficient in the world.
    • We are committed to fighting climate change and have set a science-based target to reduce our emissions by 75 percent by 2020.
="Rachel and a colleague in the office"

Facebook's core values are Move Fast, Focus on Impact, Build Social Value, Be Open, Be Bold. Which value really resonates with your team?

Focus on Impact. Our team is relatively lean and yet we have the capability of delivering many high impact initiatives for the company.

What is something that most people don't know about your team?

We have a very diverse team comprised of attorneys, public policy managers, financial analysts, program managers, data scientists, energy professionals, engineers, and business process experts.

Can you share about being a female leader in the tech industry and the importance of diversity at Facebook and tech in general?

One of the reasons why I love working at Facebook is our commitment to diversity. Diversity is not an extracurricular activity at Facebook, but rather something that we aim to implement at all levels of the company. Even though we, and the tech industry as a whole, have more work to do here, we continually reinforce this commitment through our culture, our products, and our hiring priorities.
As a woman in tech, I know first-hand how important diversity is to our industry and how diverse perspectives drive better results. It's critically important that we do everything we can to improve the hiring of diverse candidates and to encourage women to join sectors that are typically male dominated. I found my career calling in real estate site selection, a traditionally male dominated industry, and I found my inspiration through the many talented women who inspired and mentored me along the way. Today, as a woman leader in tech, it is my duty and privilege to be a mentor to women, and to do what I can to actively support the growth and advancement of women in this industry.
My advice for women? Find your passions and follow them, even if you end up being in an area where you’re normally the only woman in the room. Your strengths will develop through your passions, and you’ll work harder on your craft. Your career will find its own trajectory. Most importantly, allow yourself some room to fail, and get right back up if you stumble along the way.

Watch this short video to learn more about the Infrastructure Data Center team at Facebook:

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