Feeds

SUPERSIZE my CLOUD - Microsoft plans $677m data centre embiggening

Redmond gets bigger in corn-fed Iowa

Top three mobile application threats

Microsoft's throwing $677.6m into an Iowa data centre expansion just as internet rivals Google and Facebook have begun bulking up.

State governor Terry Branstad and West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer copped to the news here, extending a hearty Midwest welcome to Microsoft - and its jobs and cash - after Redmond's decision to expand the company's existing $100m facility in Iowa.

Codenamed Project Mountain, construction on the new data centre is due to begin later this year and be finished in 2015. It is expected to create 29 new jobs. New fibre will also be laid.

As ever in such deals, the state of Iowa has had to sweeten the pot to attract the tech company in question with the offer of tax credits and fiscal incentives - $20m for Microsoft in this case.

The news comes after Facebook announced in April that its fourth US data centre would be located in Iowa, in Altoona, coming in at an expected $1bn and sized about 1.4 million square feet. Also, Google has announced a $400m expansion of an existing facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which serves Google Search, Maps, Gmail and Google+. The money takes Google’s spend on Council Bluffs to a reported $1.5bn.

There's no technology details yet on Microsoft's data centre, but the new facility is not likely to be a record-breaker.

Northlake, Chicago, is Microsoft's biggest to-date - at just over 707,000 square feet - but it seems to be Facebook that’s breaking the records. To give you an idea of what Microsoft is up against: in addition to 1.4 million square feet at Altoona, Facebook this month announced plans for a 900,000 square foot facility in Lulea, Sweden.

The architecture of Microsoft's West Des Moines expansion, meanwhile, is likely to be modular, in keeping with Redmond's new big builds model, and relatively green - a sore subject for environmental campaigners.

Microsoft is committed to what it calls its Gen 4 design: that is a modular construction with servers packed into metal containers and hoisted into position and plugged into a central spine of power and networking. The idea is that Microsoft can expand capacity as needed.

Its Northlake, Chicago, data centre uses 40-foot containers packed with 2,000 servers and is the model for this relatively new design. Half of the Northlake facility, which cost $500m to construct, is modular.

The design is also geared towards reducing the data centre's overall carbon footprint. Using containers cuts down on pouring concrete and laying fixed copper wiring, while Microsoft makes a big deal out of using natural air cooling instead of air-conditioning and chillers, meaning its Gen 4 data centres can reduce water and power consumption.

A key metric the industry holds to is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) - a ratio of how many watts are spent on supporting the actual IT equipment.

Microsoft's approach has been variable PUE depending on the workload and server's configuration - such as the addition of UPSes and chiller units. Microsoft has developed PUE benchmarks for its data centres calculated using the existing Des Moines facility. These range from between 1.08 up to 1.73, depending the configuration. The company's goal was to achieve an average PUE at or below 1.125 by 2012 across all its data centres.

The Des Moines expansion will also see Microsoft purchase renewable energy credits. Microsoft will offset the data centre's gross carbon emissions by buying "an equivalent amount of renewable energy credits". There was no word on what that amount will be or the expected power draw from the US national grid that'll be needed to calculate such a purchase. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.