Microsoft sets two-year target for better datacentres

Microsoft wants to spend less on cooling and more on processing in its datacentres over the next two years by increasing the efficiency with which the facilities consume power.On Tuesday, at a Samsung CIO Green Forum in Munich, Rick Bakken, Microsoft's senior director of datacentre evangelism within its Global Foundation Services department, said the company is attempting to slash the average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of all Microsoft datacentres from 2.

Microsoft wants to spend less on cooling and more on processing in its datacentres over the next two years by increasing the efficiency with which the facilities consume power.

On Tuesday, at a Samsung CIO Green Forum in Munich, Rick Bakken, Microsoft's senior director of datacentre evangelism within its Global Foundation Services department, said the company is attempting to slash the average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of all Microsoft datacentres from 2.00 to 1.25 over the next 24 months.

PUE measures the power used for non-IT purposes in a datacentre, so a PUE of 1.10 says that for every watt used by IT hardware, 0.10 watts are used in cooling, lighting and other supporting infrastructure. Microsoft's goal equates to a 75 percent boost in the efficiency of its facilities.

"We like airside economisation, we like adiabatic cooling," he told ZDNet UK. "Ultimately we've got a goal to get our PUE down to 1.25 across all of our datacentres in the next 24 months."

By comparison, Google operates a fleet of datacentres with PUEs of between 1.10 and 1.21, and Facebook, which recently disclosed a high level of information about its datacentre, is running one at 1.07.

Microsoft operates "between 10 and 100" datacentres across the world, Bakken said, and buys between three and five percent of the world's supply of x86 servers every quarter.

"If we [Microsoft] were an ISP, we'd be running the fifth-largest network in the world," he said.

The company's datacentres run the gamut of sophistication, from leased facilities, to high-density warehouses, to containerised ones and smaller, more modular experimental designs. This year, the company is building out three facilities based on its ITPAC (IT Pre-Assembled Components) architecture, Bakken said.

Fundamentally, the drive for more efficient datacentres is due to Microsoft's overall decision to go further into the cloud with Windows Azure, Office 365, Windows InTune and other products, Bakken said, so reducing the power they use is beneficial to Microsoft's business model.

"Cloud computing is going to make the last four years look like a speed bump, we've got that much activity," he said.

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