The Wikimedia Foundation announced today that it is transitioning its main technical operations from a data center in Tampa to one in Ashburn, Virginia, in move it says will improve the technical performance and reliability for all its sites, including Wikipedia.
"Wikimedia sites have been hosted in our main data center in Tampa, Florida, since 2004; before that, the couple of servers powering Wikipedia were in San Diego, California. Ashburn is the third and newest primary data center to host Wikimedia sites," says Technical Communications Manager Guillaume Paumier. "A major reason for choosing Tampa, Florida as the location of the primary data center in 2004 was its proximity to founder Jimmy Wales’ home, at a time when he was much more involved in the technical operations of the site. In 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Technical Operations team started to look for other locations with better network connectivity and more clement weather. Located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ashburn offers faster and more reliable connectivity than Tampa, and usually fewer hurricanes."
"The Operations team started to plan and prepare for the Virginia data center in Summer 2010," Paumier adds. "The actual build-out and racking of servers at the colocation facility started in February 2011, and was followed by a long period of hardware, system and software configuration."
Some traffic has been served to users from the Ashburn data center since November 2011.
Along with the transition will come a disruption in service, though the foundation says its engineering teams have been working on trying to minimize inconvenience for users. Sites will be in read-only mode for part of the time, and may be "intermittently inaccessible". The target windows for migration are: January 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2013, from 17:00 to 01:00 UTC.
Last week, the foundation unveiled WikiVoyage, which transitioned to a Wikimedia Foundation project after seven of existence under the Wikivoyage Association.