Microsoft Plans Roofless Data Centers - InformationWeek
Cloud // Cloud Storage
03:54 PM
Connect Directly

Microsoft Plans Roofless Data Centers

The new architecture called "Generation 4 Modular Data Center," or Gen 4 for short, takes its cues from Microsoft's mega-data center in Chicago.

Microsoft's Chicago data center.
(click for image gallery)

Microsoft's already pushing the limits of database scalability with its shipping-container-based mega-data center in Chicago, but it wants to take things a step further.

As it invests more and more in cloud computing and software as a service, Microsoft is spending billions to build new data centers around the world. Getting the costs of building those data centers down and their scalability and flexibility up is task No. 1 for Mike Manos, the company's general manager for data center services, and his team.

The plan, Manos wrote in a blog post Tuesday, is to commoditize the build-out of Microsoft's data centers, assembling data center components on-site.

"Think about how a computer, car, or plane is built today. Components are manufactured by different companies all over the world to a predefined spec and then integrated in one location based on demands and feature requirements," Manos wrote. "We expect to do the same for data centers. Everything will be pre-manufactured and assembled on the pad."

Microsoft calls its new architecture the "Generation 4 Modular Data Center," or Gen 4 for short. Just as in Chicago, Gen 4 data centers will use shipping containers filled with servers as their basic building block. However, Gen 4 data centers will be built with "modular units of prefabricated mechanical, electrical, [and] security components," unlike in Chicago, where Microsoft built a permanent backbone of these components, which the containers plug into.

In a short animated video, Microsoft showed how Gen 4 characteristics could be put in place in both the company's smaller data centers and in its mega-data centers. The portion of the video showing off the Gen 4 mega-data center almost looks like a series of interconnected tiny power plants.

Microsoft refers to traditional data centers that focus on uptime, reliability, and redundancy as Generation 1 data centers. The second generation, which Microsoft has in place in Quincy, Wash., and San Antonio, are built with more energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. Third-generation facilities, like the one in Chicago, are being built for massive scalability and cost efficiency.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends for 2018
As we enter a new year of technology planning, find out about the hot technologies organizations are using to advance their businesses and where the experts say IT is heading.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll