Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2011 10:03 AM
Subject: Data Center Tour
Friday October 7th we took a half hour tour of one of the data centers where
much of our FamilySearch data is stored. Our church leases server and storage
space from “C7 Data Centers” ( http://www.c7dc.com/ ) in town and Via West
(http://www.viawest.com/) near Salt Lake City. C7 said FamilySearch.org
occupies about 1/3 of the resources in their center or about 6,000 servers (several
hundred of which are virtual servers).
The C7 Data Center has computing and internet capacity enough to stream 75,000
movies at the same time. If their storage capacity was converted to High-Def DVDs,
the stack of disks would be 3 miles high. They also maintain some 10,000 1.6
Terabyte cartridge tapes for archiving records in robotic tape storage vaults.
Some hardware and software used were:
Dell Poweredge 1950 and SC1425 Servers
Disk Storage Arrays (no failures in 5 years)
Cisco Nexus 7000 data communication swiches and
VMware Linux virtual server software
The data center for world distribution of our FamilySearch website is in Virginia. The
east coast has better worldwide internet access. Our church uses the C7 facility for
software development. They package tapes and ship them to the center in Virginia for
updates. It's faster and cheaper than transmitting our massive database over the internet.
So why is there such a large database for family history? There have been 50 to 100
billion people living on earth from the time of Adam 'til the present. The amount of
storage space required to store microfilm images for the entire human family is immense,
18,059,517,568 Mb of space (18 trillion, 59 million, 517 thousand, 568 Megabytes or
1805 terabytes). It would require 54 huge disk arrays to store this much data (at about
35 Tb of storage each).
NOTE (added in 2015): Hard as it may seem to believe, that much data is
only 1/5th the storage capacity of Dropbox.com and only 1/50th the size
of Facebook! So it is WELL within reach.
We currently (2011) have 3 billion records on 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored in the
Granite Mountain record vaults. There is an effort to digitize and index public records, a
process that will take years. Records are being indexed via our worldwide indexing
program at the rate of 1.5 million per day. 70 million new digital records are added each
year. Many of these will have to be indexed.
Our database is currently 5 times the size of the National Archives.
Commercial web sites charge substantially for the same services we offer for free. So
why do we do it? There's a web site, Mormon.org, where questions like these are answered
by everyday members of our church. A Canadian woman named Lindy gives a great answer
to the question ...
Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?
We believe that God has doctrine that He does not waver from. He is the same yesterday,
today, and forever, and what he stands for does not change for the convenience of people
on earth. One of these doctrines, for example, is that you must be baptized with proper
authority. It seems unfair, however, for God to require some guy in Asia who had never
even heard the name "Jesus" in his whole life to be baptized. He never had the chance.
There are provisions for situations like this. After Jesus died, he opened the keys of
spiritual prison, and from then on, people who have died have been taught the true gospel
of Christ and given the chance that they might not have had on earth, to be a disciple of
This means ordinances that needed to be done on earth, like baptism, have to be done by
proxy. Those that are living are baptized for and in behalf of those that have passed on.
Then those who are dead can CHOOSE to accept the proxy service that was preformed
We do genealogy work so we can find our ancestors, and help them receive all the
ordinances they need to progress after this life. Besides baptism, the sealing of families
is an ordinance for the LDS church. Through the priesthood authority of God, husbands
and wives are "sealed" or bonded to each other for eternity. Likewise, children are then
sealed to their parents. When we do our family history, we are completing the family
tree and sealing us altogether for the eternities, so that when we cross into the next life,
our families, including the generations before us, will be forever joined and knit together
I have had the wonderful experience of doing family history work on my mother's side
of the family, and it makes me a stronger person to know where I came from and to
know that I am serving my ancestors in something that they cannot do for themselves.
I can feel of the lives they lived and how their spirits are not forgot or even dead. Their
spirits continue to live on, and I am blessed in this life because of it.
(from: http://www.mormon.org/me/1911/Lindy captured 2010-10-07)