Microsoft Unveils Bold New Design For Future Data Centers
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Microsoft has seen the future of the data center, and oddly enough it’s missing a roof…..The company envisions a set of prefabricated containers the size of a semi-trailer filled with as many as 2,000 preconfigured servers. The containers can be parked next to and plugged into pre-built mechanical, electrical, cooling and security components. In essence, it is a giant collection of boxes and pluggable components that can grow and shrink based on need…..The company this week unveiled what it is calling its “Generation 4 Modular Data Center” plan, a blueprint that will define its cloud data-center infrastructure in the next five years. The data centers have four walls and a sophisticated perimeter security system, but are open to the elements as they lack a roof. Trucks wheel the boxes into the enclosure where they are connected to power/cooling stations before being brought online. It’s a bold plan to drive industry thinking about how to construct and operate data centers in a world of capacity spikes, real-time needs for computing power and expanding green initiatives.
“We believe it is one of the most revolutionary changes to happen to data centers in the last 30 years,” said Michael Manos, general manager of global foundation services for Microsoft, in his blog introducing Microsoft’s Generation 4 plan. BusinessWeek reported last month that Microsoft said it was going to “reinvent the infrastructure of our industry” by building some 20 data centers that can carry a price tag as much as $1 billion apiece. “In short, we are striving to bring Henry Ford’s Model T factory to the data center,” Manos said. “In our design process, we questioned everything. You may notice there is no roof and some might be uncomfortable with this. We explored the need of one and throughout our research we got some surprising (positive) results that showed one wasn’t needed.”