Friday, January 7, 2011

New Data Center from Microsoft in Washington

Very soon, Microsoft will be unleashing a state-of-the-art data center in Washington after receiving a tax cut from local politicos. Microsoft has promised to open up what it is calling "one of the most innovative new data centers" in Quincy, Washington in the early part of this year. There aren't a whole lot of details, but it is said that the center is expected to host services like Microsoft's Azure cloud.

This new data center is based almost entirely on pre-assembled computing models that are designed to give you a greater scale as well as greater flexibility. The center also uses server cooling techniques that were developed at the Dublin and Chicago data centers of Microsoft in order to help cut running costs. The data center will open up next to Microsoft's existing 500,000-square-foot data center facility in Quincy, which was opened back in 2007.

General Manager of Microsoft's Data Center Services Kevin Timmons wrote in a blog post that the expansion takes new ideas that were forged in Dublin and Chicago one step further, using modular building blocks for electrical, mechanical, server and security subsystems. At Microsoft's other data centers the modules were capable of scaling from 400 to 2,000 servers.

According to Timmons, "Our modular design enables us to build a facility in significantly less time while reducing capital costs by an average of 50% to 60% over the lifetime of the project."

This new design means that the Quincy extension will be housed in a steel and aluminum structure instead of the concrete building that is the existing Quincy center. A report from Data Center Knowledge back in May said that the building will completely lack side walls. This news comes following an eight month experiment where Microsoft ran five HP servers in an outside tent with absolutely no failures.

"The Structure," according to Timmons, "is virtually transparent to ambient outdoor conditions, allowing us to essentially place our servers and storage outside in the cool air while still protecting it from the elements. The interior layout is specifically designed to allow us to further innovate in the ways that we deploy equipment in future phases of the project."

This is all very exciting stuff, but it almost didn't happen. Back in 2009, Microsoft released news that they were closing the existing Quincy data center and moving operations to San Antonio, Texas. This news came as a Washington tax exemption that favored data center providers was set to expire. However, local politicians responded with a 15-month sales tax exemption on the purchase and installation of computers and energy for new data centers in 32 rural counties in the state of Washington, the place where Microsoft has called home for 32 years.

This tax break was backed by the political pressure group Washington Needs Jobs who has members including Microsoft, Yahoo and VMware as well as the Washington Technology Industry Association and the town of Quincy. It was also said that, along with Microsoft, Yahoo and VMware are also planning on producing data centers in Washington.

Source: The Register

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