Data center facilities pro

Dec 3 2008   12:03AM GMT

Microsoft rolls out container data center strategy for cloud computing

Matt Stansberry Matt Stansberry Profile: Matt Stansberry

Say goodbye to chillers and CRAC-units, say goodbye to raised floors and traditional disaster recovery. And say hello to the new paradigm, courtesy of Microsoft’s data center team.

Microsoft’s goal in 2008 was to shake up the data center community in a big way, starting with Mike Manos’ announcement at AFCOM that Microsoft would be deploying containerized data centers, to Christian Belady’s “Data center in a tent” experiment with a PUE of 1.0. Mission accomplished.

These guys are pushing the envelope like no one else in the industry — rabble rousing at ASHRAE TC 9.9 meetings, calling out vendors, and blogging about it every chance they get. They’re literally scaring people who have built their reputation and businesses on traditional data center design — and I don’t just mean the people selling chillers and raised flooring. These engineers are mad scientists, flipping their noses at decades of conventional wisdom.

You can read Microsoft’s proposal for yourself at Mike Manos’ blog, but the basic concept is this: data center trailers with minimal building envelop, using unconditioned outside air to cool servers. The servers will run on outside air with temperatures ranging 10-35 C and 20-80% relative humidity. “For this class of infrastructure, we eliminate generators, chillers, UPSs,” Belady wrote in the blog.

Here is a video:

Video: Microsoft Generation 4.0 Data Center Vision

The applications these servers are supporting have a built-in failover, Microsoft calls it “geo-redundancy”. If the server (or servers) die, the application automatically shifts over to another batch of servers, and Microsoft technicians replace the servers on a maintenance schedule.

For applications that demand higher redundancies, Microsoft will build more robust infrastructure. But thanks to its chargeback program, Microsoft’s business units will be less likely to adopt the more expensive higher-redundancy configurations if they can prove the bare bones approach works.

Microsoft doesn’t want you to put your data center in a tent. If you want to run big iron, have redundant components, pay big bucks for people to babysit your servers and keep them cool, that’s your business.

But they do want you to know that they plan to run all of their data centers at 1.125 PUE by 2012.

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