ITKE Community Blog

Aug 18 2009   5:39PM GMT

With data centers, Microsoft more ‘open kimono’ than Google

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Google's floating data center schematics

Google's floating data center schema

Google’s become known for being willing to try almost anything when it comes to the data center: The Internet giant’s re-vitalized small Iowa towns, designed and commissioned its own custom hardware and even floated the idea of a sea-based data center (Mark Fontecchio dissected that strategy in a blog post).

One strategy the big G hasn’t been willing to try however is transparency, according to New York Times reporter Ashlee Vance:

No one really knows how effective Google’s strategy is. The secretive company releases precious little information about its internal operations. Maybe it saves vast amounts of money by fine-tuning a super-efficient data center. Or maybe the “must-be-invented here” method adds a lot of cost and complexity to Google’s infrastructure.

Microsoft doesn’t seem terribly worried about Google’s eccentric methods. It continues to buy systems from companies like Dell, SGI and Cisco Systems, as it builds out some of the biggest data centers on the planet.

“I can’t say how we compare to Google,” said Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft’s vice president in charge of the company’s infrastructure. “I really haven’t seen them be as ‘open kimono’ as we have been.”

Microsoft, more open and transparent than Google? It can happen, apparently. And if Google’s talking about putting data centers on a boat, Microsoft seems prepared to take them on the road. Chrapaty said Redmond’s considering ditching buildings altogether, putting data-centers-in-a-box out in the open. That would make them cheaper to deploy, if perhaps a bit more exposed, and also raises the possibility of nomadic data centers, traveling from tax haven to tax haven as local legislators try to lure high tech firms.

Sound far fetched? Talk to Quincy, Washington, which lost Microsoft’s Azure data centers to San Antonio for just that reason. Make the data centers more portable, and who knows what will come of it.

Some ITKnowledgeExchange Data Center Resources:

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