Microsoft Reportedly Kicks Off $1.1B Cloud Data Center in Iowa

Microsoft is identified as the company behind a massive data center project in Iowa, which is becoming a cloud computing hotbed.

Microsoft is expanding is data center operations in Iowa. The giant software and cloud services provider has been identified as the company behind the massive "Project Alluvion" on a 154-acre site in West Des Moines.

The data center is expected to cost nearly $1.13 billion, according to a report in The Quad-City Times. It will join the region's previously announced "Project Mountain," Microsoft's $700-million cloud data center, which was green-lit last year.

Microsoft's investment in the area is nearing $2 billion, edging out a $1.9 billion wind farm from Mid-American, noted the report. The project will benefit from $87 million in state and local incentives and is expected to sustain 84 jobs after the facility is up and running.

The Des Moines Register reported that the data center will near completion in five to seven years, and is expected to generate $8 million in property tax revenue to the city of West Des Moines, or 14 percent of the city's annual budget.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said in a news conference that the tech giant's "decision to again choose Iowa for another significant investment highlights our commitment to the innovation economy."

Brandstad's home state has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from a number of other notable tech companies that are looking to expand their cloud-computing operations. Facebook is pouring $300 million into a data center in Altoona, Iowa. Rival Google spent a whopping $1.5 billion to set up shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Google boasts on its Website that the area "has the right combination of energy infrastructure, developable land, and available workforce for the data center" and that the facility had generated more than 130 jobs to date.

Microsoft built its first data center in 1989 at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Today, its cloud footprint stretches to more than 90 markets after investing more than $15 billion over 25 years in data center infrastructure.

The total number of data centers operated by Microsoft is a closely guarded secret, however. "Although we do not share the total number of data centers or their specific locations to protect the security of our cloud services," said the company in a March 2014 fact sheet, it did admit to having IT facilities in Amsterdam, Chicago, Dublin and Hong Kong, among several other locations.

Microsoft's cloud encompasses more than 1 million servers and more than 2.5 billion MB of storage, according to the company. New data centers have an average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating—a measure of the facility's energy efficiency—of 1.125, well below the industry average of 1.8 (the closer to 1.0, the better).

Taken altogether, Microsoft's cloud data centers support more than 200 services, including Office 365, OneDrive, Skype and Microsoft Azure. The company claims it serves more than 1 billion customers and 20 million businesses.

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...