By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Networking | August 11, 2021 -- 19:32 GMT (12:32 PDT) | Topic: Networking
We rarely think about keeping time. As Chicago sang in the 60s, "Does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?" But, technically, we care a lot.
Our technology can't work worth a darn if the Network Time Protocol (NTP) isn't keeping our servers and PCs coordinated with one another. Without it, backups would fail, financial transactions would go awry, and many fundamental network services wouldn't work. To help with these issues, Facebook started making its internet clocks more accurate in 2020. Now, the social media giant is open-sourcing its technology, Time Appliances Project (TAP), and enabling anyone to turn a commodity server into a reliable NTP time appliance.
Today, Facebook uses a multi-layered time server architecture to keep time. It's made up of satellites with precise atomic clocks at the top. Facebook's own atomic clocks sync with one of these, forming the second layer.