Is This the Answer to All of Facebook’s Problems?

Keeping Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) online is crucial for the company and its investors. In order to prevent the social network going offline, a company engineer recently developed a “heat map” to identify potential problems with data centers and servers.

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In the last eight years, Facebook has compiled an immense stockpile of data on its approximately 1 billion users, building several data centers to house and organize that data. But worries have grown: the site could go down, software could be corrupted, or hardware could lose its effectiveness.

“As Facebook grew both in size and complexity, it became more and more difficult to figure out which piece was broken when something went wrong,” wrote heat-map developer Sean Lynch in a recent post to the company’s Engineering Facebook Page.

Facebook’s recent drive to increase advertising revenue makes its store of users’ biographical and social information essential to the company’s profitability, especially when facing such stiff competition. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is now poised to overtake Facebook as the leader in display advertisements. Google will take 15.4 percent of this year’s U.S. advertising dollars, followed by Facebook, with 14.4 percent, then Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and AOL (NYSE:AOL).

Lynch developed the technology, known as Claspin, to arrange data centers and servers on a grid-like map, where different colors indicate the health of different parts of the network. Color variations, red, yellow, and green, allow Facebook’s cache performance team, of which Lynch is part, to pinpoint the problem and its location faster than engineers could previously.

“Claspin has allowed us to catch more ‘yellows’ and prevent more ‘reds,’” wrote Lynch of the technology’s performance. “I suppose there’s no better validation of one’s choice of statistics and thresholds than to have things start out red and then turn green as the service improves.”

Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) finished the week on Friday up 1.2% at $22.86.

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