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Microsoft Also Rolling Its Own Data Centers

Despite the struggling world economy, Facebook isn't the only big-name company or organization that is planning a large investment in building its own data centers. Not by a long shot.

Here at The Station, we're going to report them one by one each day for a while in order to alert all our loyal readers about the opportunities that are out there. Just think of all the software, hardware, security, power supplies, cooling apparatuses, backup systems, cabling, and so on that must be acquired for such a project. If you are an IT product or service provider, and what you make or service can be used in a data center of any kind, you might want to pay attention.

Microsoft, which knows software but is hardly an expert on hardware, decided a couple of years ago to jump headlong into the data center business. Now it is building what's called a "containerized" data center in Northlake, Ill., just outside Chicago.

This "containerized" system is designed for portable, modular, stand-alone data systems in 8-foot-by-20-foot shipping containers to be driven in by truck and simply plugged in on the first floor of the data center. The plug-and-play data center idea is also being exploited by Rackable Systems (The IceCube), Sun Microsystems (Blackbox) and Verari Systems, which has an offering we're told is extremely impressive. Actually, our hat is off to any company that can put an entire data center into a shipping carton.

Microsoft is also building new data centers in San Antonio, Texas; Quincy, Wash.; and Dublin, Ireland. It just finished the first building at the Quincy facility, which must be massive; a leisurely walk around it is about 1.3 miles in length, according to Michael Manos, Microsoft's senior director of Data Center Services. The Chicago facility will be the only one with a "containerized" floor.

"This is the first data center of this kind that we know of, and we've seen a lot of them," Microsoft Principal Power and Cooling Architect Christian Belady told me.

Now we've heard that Dell will be providing a great portion of the server hardware for these centers. But that still leaves lots of sales opps!

By the way, check my colleague Joe Wilcox's blog today. He features an Om Malik video interview with Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft's corporate vice president of global foundation services, who is very candid about the company's data center plans.

So that's today's Data Center Blog Minute. Tell your friends.

Here's the contact info for Microsoft: Civica Office Building, 205 108th Ave. NE, Suite 400; Bellevue, WA 98004; phone: (425) 705-1900; fax: (425) 936-7329.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...