o Data centers currently under construction: Those are Dublin, Ireland and Chicago, Illinois.
· How we choose future data center locations: When choosing future data center sites, we take into account over 35 weighted criteria in our “global heatmap,” including close proximity to an ample power source and fiber optic networks, a large pool of skilled labor, affordable energy rates, tax, and to determine the long-term viability of each site.
· Broad financial figures on data centers: We have only announced our expenditures on the data centers listed above that we have built from the ground up, and those figures aren’t necessarily indicative of all of our data center investments.
o Smart Growth: Smart growth means judiciously adding data centers and capacity within those data centers when and where we need them based on the demands of the customers of our online services. One of the ways we do this is by using new technology that enables us to scale quickly as needed. The technology we’re focused on for flexible growth right now is containers.
o Measurable Efficiency: When you’re managing an infrastructure of hundreds of thousands of servers it is essential that you run it efficiently. The first thing you need to do in this regard is to constantly measure, and then with that data make sure you make the right power and performance tradeoffs as you focus on uptime, availability, performance, and power usage. Everything has to be manageable – from the supply chain to the servers to the network — and it has to be built to operate with great processes every day. Furthermore, you need to apply technology for efficiency both in architecting services to run efficiently and in applying breakthrough technologies such as virtualization.
o Global Trust: When customers think about trust, they tend to think security and privacy. But Microsoft thinks of trust more broadly: Our goal is to keep our customers’ data and our sites secure from attack and also safeguard our customers’ personally identifiable information. We must be available and reliable when customers need us, providing performance they can count on. And we need to deliver our products in the language they want, with special market considerations when appropriate – (e.g. mobile).
· Sustainability efforts: We are focused on integrating the latest innovations in technology and building techniques to maximize efficiencies and utilize alternative energy sources when and where possible to improve our Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and overall impact on the environment. As updated technology and techniques are developed, we make constant adjustments to our existing and new facilities, as well as our processes, to continue to improve our effectiveness.
· Amount of power we use: When asked, Microsoft’s power consumption is between 30 and 50 percent better than the global industry average for traditional facilities. At Microsoft, we believe that it is important to track and monitor an average PUE across all of our data centers (no matter how small or how old) in order to truly understand how well our data center operations are under control, and to allow us to make the right business decisions. Our current annual global average PUE is 1.60.
· Azure Services Platform in our data centers: Windows Azure is an Internet-scale cloud services platform (with an integrated development, service hosting, and management environment) maintained in Microsoft data centers. This environment includes a robust and efficient core of compute and simple storage capabilities and support for a rich variety of development tools and protocols. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and to manage web applications in Microsoft data centers.
· Windows Server 2008 in our data centers: Windows Server 2008 is the operating system of choice for both on-premises data center applications and hosting applications in the cloud. Windows Azure is built on Windows Server 2008.
· Windows relevancy to the new Azure Services Platform for cloud computing: Windows Azure is built on Windows Server 2008. For years, Windows has connected thousands of peripherals and partners to the PC ecosystem. Now, as the power of devices increases and the ubiquity of the web unfolds, Microsoft is delivering on its Software + Services strategy by building platforms, tools, infrastructure, and solutions to enable new kinds of applications and services that extend from the server, to the data center, to the cloud – and from the browser, to the PC, to the phone and beyond. Windows Server 2008 is the operating system of choice for both on-premises data center applications and hosting applications in the cloud.
· SQL Data Services (SDS) in our data centers: Customers can use SQL Data Services to store virtually any amount of data in the cloud. SDS is stored in large storage clusters in Microsoft data centers located across North America. Microsoft also plans to offer the service from international locations such as Europe and Asia. Users can group their data into authorities, which are affiliated with specific data centers and therefore provide control over the geographic location of the data for reduced latency.
· Microsoft Online Services in our data centers: Delivers enterprise-class software as subscription services to businesses of all sizes hosted by Microsoft and sold with partners. This includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Exchange Hosted Services, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and soon – Microsoft Office Communications Online.
· Generation 4 Modular Data Center Vision: The concept behind the modular data center builds on the innovation deployed at our Chicago data center, which will house shipping containers packed with up to 2,500 servers each. Container facilities help ensure that server capacity meets customer demands, reduce the likelihood of overcapacity, and reduce the time to build a data center from 24 to 12 months. Our “Gen 4” modular data centers will take the flexibility of containerized servers and apply it across the entire facility, which will be composed of modular “building blocks” of prefabricated mechanical, electrical and security components, in addition to containerized servers. These facilities can be built incrementally as capacity grows and deployed in only three to six months, reducing capital costs by 20% to 40%. Modular data centers will be scalable and sustainable, ensuring that our global footprint is only as big as capacity demands that it be. All information that can be shared publicly is posted on the GFS data center team blog posted here that outlines Microsoft’s vision of the foundation of our cloud data center infrastructure in the next five years. A cool video is posted here.
· Security and Privacy: Microsoft endeavors to protect the privacy and security of our customers. We comply with all applicable privacy laws, and we follow the privacy practices outlined in the Microsoft Online Privacy Statement. Microsoft is committed to protecting the security of your personal information. We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. For example, we store customer information on computer systems with limited access, which are located in controlled facilities. When we transmit highly confidential information over the Internet, we protect it through the use of encryption. All information that can be shared is posted on the GFS web site’s security page here.
So, as you can see, it’s all about Data. 🙂