Oh, It's On: Microsoft Opens Gigantic Data Centers

Microsoft's 700,000-square-foot Chicago data center, which started operations in July, will be dedicated to the expansion of its Live, Business Productivity Online and other cloud computing services, said Arne Josefsberg, general manager of infrastructure services, in a blog post earlier this week.

Microsoft will likely use the Chicago data center for its Windows Azure cloud development platform, which is currently in testing and will be launched at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in November. Microsoft, which has been embroiled in an Azure-related sales tax dispute with the state of Washington, in August said it would move Azure applications out of its Northwest data center in response to a court ruling.

In addition to logistical flexibility, the new data centers afford Microsoft a golden opportunity to play up its dedication to the green IT cause.

The Chicago data center currently has 30 megawatts of critical power with an additional 30 megawatts of expansion capacity, and it'll eventually house more than 300,000 blade servers packed into cargo containers. Container architecture makes it possible to pack between 1,800 and 2,500 blade servers into a single container, and requires much less cabling than traditional data centers, Josefsberg wrote.

Sponsored post

Microsoft's Dublin data center also came online in July and is the company's largest data center outside the U.S. The 303,000-square-foot building has 5.4 megawatts of critical power now and can expand to 22.2 megawatts in the future.

Container architecture has proven an effective way to minimize data center energy consumption, and both Microsoft facilities will also benefit by virtue of where they're located. Chicago's legendarily rough winters will help shave that data center's cooling costs, and the cool year-round climate will do the same for the Ireland data center. In fact, the Dublin facility is entirely air cooled and doesn't use any sort of chilling mechanism, Josefsberg wrote.

In another sign of the strategic significance Microsoft places on data centers, the company in June hired Kevin Timmons, a key Yahoo data center executive, to lead the Data Center Services organization within Microsoft's Global Foundation Services (GFS) division.