Microsoft: Making Data Centers Like Lego

<a href="" target="_new" title="Microsoft Generation 4.0 Data Center Vision">Video: Microsoft Generation 4.0 Data Center Vision</a>


Lovin that video – I want to see those Windows Azure trucks rolling down my street!

Fun aside, the Generation 4 data centers that are depicted here and talked about at length on Mike Manos’s blog are a big deal. They take many of the conventional concepts regarding data centers and throw them out of the window. Raised floors are a thing of the past and even the new Microsoft data centers in Chicago is Generation 3 – being partly containerised.

“Gen 4” data centers from Microsoft take modularisation to a new level and though the analogy with the Model T Ford is a good one, I also like the notion of turning data centers in to Lego like building blocks. From server racks in containers to power supplies that are specified and manufactured consistently hence driving down cost, build time and the potential for faster global rollout. That last part really intrigues me and I’m looking forward to a call I have with Mike Manos this week to find out how this can help with even faster global expansion.

The flexibility enabled by this modularisation provides huge potential and is another signal of how serious Microsoft is about the provision of services as part of our Software plus Services strategy. It’s a fascinating blog post from Mike and the team that talks about how different applications demand different solutions – something we have to think through rigorously as Live Search is a different beast from Exchange Online both in the service it provides and the customers it serves. Things like latency become critical in the provision of business services.

The amount of information these guys are sharing is also impressive. In an arena of huge competition (think Amazon, Google and others) the details of data centers are considered competitive advantage so the amount of sharing is surprising. With things like a roofless data center and commitment to reduce or even eliminate water usage, Manos acknowledged that the design will be controversial.


“By sharing this with the industry, we believe everyone can benefit from our methodology,” said Manos. ” While this concept and approach may be intimidating (or downright frightening) to some in the industry, disclosure ultimately is better for all of us. Gen 4 design (even more than just containers), could reduce the ‘religious’ debates in our industry.”

As I’ve been saying for a while, this data center battleground is going to be a big one. These guys continue to impress me with their openness and radical approach. I hope it pays off for us.

Comments (1)
  1. Craig Bailey says:

    Yep, love the video too. But where’s the driving NiN soundtrack 🙂

    I agree with your thoughts on openness. Transparency is a competitive advantage of its own.

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