Thinking Outside The Box, In The Box! Microsoft Begins Container Testing At Chicago Data Center

Microsoft’s first Data Center that makes use of shipping containers as a primary server-packaging unit, has moved into the testing phase. The facility in Chicago is the first purpose-built Data Center to accommodate containers on such a large scale. When completed the Chicago Data Center will be one of the largest in the world with it’s capacity to house hundreds of thousands of servers, each shipping container holds approx. 2,500 servers!

The Chicago Facility is much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than Data Centers were before. All because the use of those 40ft containers! And energy efficiency isn’t the only benefit, more about that in Mike Manos’ point of view on the Chicago Data Center. Mike Manos is the general manager of data center services for Global Foundation Services/Microsoft.

“..in my mind, containers are driving huge cost and efficiency (read also as cost benefits in addition to “green” benefits) gains for the business.  This is an extremely important point, as Microsoft expands its data center infrastructure, it is supremely important that we follow an established smart growth methodology for our facilities that is designed to prevent overbuilding—and thus avoid associated costs to the environment and to our shareholders.  We are a business after all.  We must do all of this while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for Microsoft’s Online and Live services.”

“Containers, and this new approach is definitely a change in how facilities have traditionally been developed, and as a result many people in our industry are intimidated by it.  But they shouldn’t be. Data center’s have not changed in fundamental design for decades.  Sometimes change is good. The exposure to any new idea is always met with resistance, but with a little education things change over time.”

With that in mind Microsoft also announces they will hold their second Microsoft Data Center Experience (MDX) event in Chicago in Spring/summer 2009. The first one held in San Antonio was an opportunity for a couple hundred Microsoft enterprise customers to take a tour at the facilities and ask questions. That event was very successful and provided incredible feedback, so they decided to do one for the very first container data center too! More info on that on your Microsoft account management team or your local Microsoft sales office next Spring.

The newest Microsoft Data Center in West Des Moines, Iowa, will also be using this container technology.