Microsofts First Container-Based Facility

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-10-28 Print this article Print


One Microsoft data center that is not getting a lot of attention is one the company is building in Chicago, which is the Microsoft's first container-based facility, Chrapaty said, showing a mock-up of a data center container on an 18-wheeler that could be unloaded and added to an existing facility to add capacity.

"We build our containers to Microsoft specifications, and that is unique to what anyone else is doing," Chrapaty said. "We're excited about the pilot in Chicago, and it gives us great scale."

Microsoft broke ground at the Chicago site on Oct. 1, 2007, the company said. And a year later, move-in and testing began for the 40-foot shipping containers inside the facility, each of which will house approximately 2,500 servers.

Many data centers can handle 25,000 to 30,000 servers in a data center. "Well, we can fit 10 times that in a standard-size facility," Chrapaty said. "So there is a lot of scale, and with scale comes price point," she added, noting that Microsoft's prices will be competitive with, if not better than, other offerings in the industry.

Moreover, Chrapaty said the Chicago data center is the first Microsoft data center to use shipping containers as a primary server packaging and deployment unit. When both phases of the data center are complete, it will total more than 707,000 square feet on a 16-acre site. It will hold hundreds of thousands of servers to deliver on the Microsoft software-plus-services initiative.  The company claims the Chicago facility will be one of the largest data centers in the world and the largest deployment of the use of containers to date.

For the Windows Azure release, "we spent a lot of time with Amitabh's [Srivastava, corporate vice president at Microsoft and head of the Azure team] group thinking about what should the optimal server look like, and how well should a server perform and what kinds of networks should we implement to make sure it extends globally," Chrapaty said.

As far as demand for Azure coming out of the blocks with the new community technology preview offering and beyond, Chrapaty said: "We have more than ample capacity to support current and future expectations. We continue to invest heavily in the cloud, and our data centers cost anywhere from $300 million to $700 million. We're deeply invested to make sure our cloud is ever available." 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel