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Musk Reportedly Considering Closing Twitter Data Center, Slashing Cloud Contracts


Twitter may close one of its three U.S. data centers, part of a sweeping set of digital infrastructure cuts reportedly being considered by Elon Musk following his $44B purchase of the social media giant.

Musk has proposed shutting down the company’s California data center as part of a $1B reduction in infrastructure spending that could also see Twitter scale back its use of cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, The Information reports.

These changes come amid major staffing cuts to the teams responsible for maintaining these systems and facilities, stoking fears that the platform is teetering on the edge of viability. 

Musk is specifically considering shuttering Twitter’s so-called SMF1 data center in Sacramento, the Information reports, citing people familiar with the situation. The same facility was at the center of a major Twitter outage in September when it overheated amid a record heat wave.

While the specific location and capacity of the facility is unknown, Data Center Dynamics reports it is likely at a campus operated by NTT, QTS or Prime Data Centers. Its closure would leave Twitter with just two dedicated data centers in the U.S.: one in Atlanta and one in Portland.

Beyond its own data centers, Twitter also relies heavily on digital infrastructure as a service through major cloud contracts with AWS and Google Cloud — but this is also reportedly one of Musk’s prime targets for major spending cuts. According to The Information, Musk has proposed a number of measures to reduce the company’s cloud usage, including deleting certain types of data stored in the cloud after 21 days and reducing how many advertisements are served to occasional Twitter users. 

While Musk’s cost-cutting crusade at Twitter could lead to significantly slimmed-down digital infrastructure, he has already dramatically reduced the workforce charged with maintaining it. Musk laid off around half the company’s staff, while more than 1,000 employees reportedly quit — including many responsible for the design and upkeep of the company’s IT infrastructure. The Command Center team responsible for preventing outages during periods of peak use has been significantly reduced, The Information reported, while the core services IT architecture team went from more than 100 people to just four. 

With only a skeleton staff left to maintain the company’s data centers and other IT architecture, both former Twitter employees and outside experts have raised concerns about the stability of the company’s platform, with some predicting inevitable outages or site reliability dramatically worsening over time. 

The company got an immediate taste of what could lie ahead late last week. In the immediate aftermath of layoffs last week, the on-site data center at Twitter’s New York offices overheated, bringing down the building’s internet service, because there was no one left maintaining it.