Microsoft Parks Cloud Over $700M Iowa Data Center

Microsoft is revealed to be behind the massive new cloud computing facility setting up shop in West Des Moines, Iowa.


Microsoft is spending nearly $700 million on "Project Mountain," a data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, that will aid in the company's cloud expansion.

The news emerged after Iowa's Economic Development Authority Board approved $20 million in tax credits for Project Mountain, according to a June 21 report by the Des Moines Register's Donnelle Eller. The company secured an up to $6 million five-year tax rebate from the West Des Moines City Council a week earlier.

Microsoft is not alone in pouring massive amounts of money into the region, nor will it be the last. The report indicated Microsoft will spend $677.6 million, two months after Facebook announced it would spend $300 million in a multi-phase data center project in Altoona, Iowa, that will soar past the $1 billion mark. Google is expected to invest $1.5 billion on its Council Bluffs, Iowa, data center.

"Microsoft’s latest expansion pushes its investment to nearly a billion dollars. It would become the third big tech company to push its data center investment to $1 billion or more," wrote Eller.

"Debi Durham, the state's economic development director, said Iowa may see more data center projects this year," she informed.

The data center will add to Microsoft's growing cloud services and applications portfolio. "The expansion supports the growing demand for Microsoft's cloud services," Microsoft's Christian Belady, general manager of the company's Data Center Services division, is quoted as saying in the Des Moines Register.

The data center is expected to support services including XBox Live and Office 365. Microsoft's upcoming next-gen console, the Xbox One, will feature cloud-enabled gameplay sharing, capture and matchmaking features anchored by the Xbox Live service. Office 365, meanwhile, is set to receive updates that narrow the features gap between its Web apps and their desktop counterparts.

The company's cloud is also emerging into an enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. On June 18, the company announced that its Dynamics GP 2013 and Dynamics NAV 2013 enterprise resource planning (ERP) offerings are available as cloud-delivered software.

Big business has taken notice of Microsoft's cloudy moves. Windows Azure General Manager Steven Martin said on June 14 that more than half of the Fortune 500 has adopted the fast-growing Azure platform. "In just a year, we have grown to over 200 services for our platform, more than doubled our customer base (now at 250,000) and are seeing an average of 1,000 new customers per day," he stated in a blog post.

There are also signs that the project will incorporate the latest innovations in energy-efficient and eco-friendly IT. Project Mountain represents "our latest in efficient data center thinking," Belady told the Des Moines Register.

In January, Microsoft announced plans for a $348 million green data center expansion in Virginia. "These facilities showcase state-of-the-art designs developed from our latest technology and infrastructure research that continues to minimize water, energy use and building costs, while increasing computing capacity, software capabilities and server utilization," Belady said in a prepared statement at the time.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...