Say what you want about
Facebook’s war on privacy, there is one thing the company is doing that deserves kudos. It is inventing a whole bunch of technology and giving it away for free.
Today Facebook said it’s releasing software called “Presto” as a free and open source project. Presto allows people to ask questions (in geek speak called “queries”) of huge databases and get the answers back immediately, not hours or days later).
With over 1 billion users, Facebook has such a huge database that the usual query tool wasn’t working fast enough (a software project called Hive). So it invented Presto, Facebook’s Martin Traverso said in a blog post:
We have one of the largest data warehouses in the world, storing more than 300 petabytes. … Being able to run more queries and get results faster improves their productivity … development on Presto started in Fall 2012. We had our first production system up and running in early 2013. It was fully rolled out to the entire company by Spring 2013. … The system is actively used by over a thousand employees,who run more than 30,000 queries processing one petabyte daily.
Facebook first talked about Presto publicly at a big data conference in June 2013. Since then, data scientists have been asking about it, Traverso said, and the company let a few try it. That went well, so on Wednesday, Facebook decided to give Presto away to everyone for free.
In return, as more people use it, they contribute to it, add features, and fix bugs, so Facebook gets the benefit of that.
This is just one of a long string of software that Facebook gives away for free. It’s not the only one doing this. Many web companies, including Google, give away a lot of software. (Google gives away the Android mobile operating system, for example.)
But Facebook goes further. It also invents hardware and gives those designs away for free. That program, the Open Compute Project, has been so successful that a lot of companies now help Facebook invent new hardware, too.
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