Microsoft: Million Server datacenters

Microsoft: Million Server datacenters

Summary: A million servers in their datacenters makes Microsoft number 2 and trying harder

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You never know what kind of information you are going to pick up from Steve Ballmer when he’s speaking at a large event. And at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference he talked about the size of Microsoft’s datacenters and provided some serious context into the datacenter business in general.

No, Microsoft isn’t announcing plans to build a single datacenter to house a million servers; that’s roughly the total number of servers that Microsoft has in its current datacenter infrastructure. And Ballmer tells us that it puts them at Number 2, behind Google, for datacenter size.  Not a really surprising statement. More interestingly, at least from the datacenter vendor perspective, is that he believes Amazon sits at number three, with Yahoo and Facebook being the only other entities that make it into the “over 100,000 server” club.

In 2011, Amazon talked about adding enough datacenter capacity, on a daily basis, to support the level of IT workload that they had for their first 5 years of operations, when they were running just under $3 billion annually. Given that level of growth it really provides context for how much capacity both Microsoft and Google must have available to support their online businesses and cloud operations to maintain a lead in the total number of servers in operation..

Ballmer also made the point that they are the only datacenter and cloud operation on this scale that actively supports hybrid networks and is not just attempting to drive their customers to cloud services. While much of the recent and ongoing datacenter expansion has been to support Office 365 and the Microsoft Azure public cloud platform, they continue to partner with hardware OEMs to deliver hybrid cloud technologies to businesses that don’t buy into the public cloud model for their IT applications and workload.

It seems easy for some pundits to continue to write Microsoft off as stuck in the past, dependent on revenue from operating system and Office application sales to drive the company, but a deeper look shows that while they still lead the industry in revenue from those types of products they are well positioned to make the transition to the future as their customers demand it

Topics: Data Centers, Microsoft

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  • Exactly

    "It seems easy for some pundits to continue to write Microsoft off as stuck in the past, dependent on revenue from operating system and Office application sales to drive the company, "

    Those pundits are stuck in the past. Not Microsoft
    Dreyer Smit
    • Wow

      Windows servers are too inefficient. Microsoft needs a million servers to get the equivalent performance of a cluster of Linux servers.

      Windows servers have too much GUI overhead that just sits there until an admin needs to log in to them. This overhead, as well as many other bad performance services, is why you don't see hardly any windows super-computer clusters in the world. Almost all of the super-computers run Linux or some variant of Unix. Windows doesn't even have 1% of the super-computer market for this reason. The evidence is not even debatable, regardless of which operating system you personally love.

      If you have proof that this is wrong, reply with it.

      http://www.top500.org/statistics/list (change the dropdown to operating systems)
      chazz422
      • You are off on a bit off the mark...

        The article is about datacenters - not supercomputers. Two totally different animals.

        There are many uses for OS's, and many benchmarks and markets. Each OS has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you looked at the TPC-E benchmark for OLTP transactions, you would find Windows Servers generally superior. But it does not make Windows superior to *nix in other areas. Different workloads, that's all.

        Moreover, you can indeed install Windows Servers without the GUI; it is optional.
        batpox
        • Actually, It doesn't appear to have been widly tested yet.

          In the generally used TPC-C tests Windows doesn't show.

          The top 7 are all AIX.
          The next four are Linux (RH and SUSA).

          So windows doesn't even show up in the top 10.

          As far as Windows goes, the TPC-E doesn't show much, as none of major finance networks use Windows. They went with Linux to have the lowest latency, and fastest trades.
          jessepollard
          • That change to Linux occured a bunch of years ago, and if they had had

            the current efficiency and power of Windows OSes, chances are that, Windows would still be running those financial networks' computers.

            But, what batbox said is still true, that supercomputers are not designed for data-center usage, and Windows servers handle that kind of load a lot more efficiently. It's like comparing the functions of tow different machines that use the same horsepower engines: one might be an 800 hp truck for hauling dirt, and the other might be an 800 hp piece of construction equipment. Same kind of power, different functions. HPC is not meant or designed for high volume transaction applications, and Windows servers are not designed to emulate weather models, although the Windows servers could easily be modified to handle such a workload, while you can't say the same for the HPCs.
            adornoe@...
      • re: Wow

        Obviously you've never heard of Server Core... the Windows Server with no GUI.
        It's only been out for what, 6 years now ?

        The late 90's called. They want their boring Linux vs. Windows argument back.
        klashbrook@...
        • Re: Obviously you've never heard of Server Core... the Windows Server with

          You mean, the one you had to control with PowerShell, but you couldn't actually install PowerShell on a server with no GUI?
          ldo17
    • Fine for small businesses

      It's a different story when it comes to small businesses because you can pay administrators very low salaries to work on windows machines due to the graphical administration and basic configuration. This is why some companies choose windows servers, not for the efficiency of the hardware/OS. For large server environments, the low paid admins outweigh the server reliability and performance that it will actually cost more overall.
      chazz422
      • Low cost of admins????

        One windows admin can handle maybe 50 nodes.

        One Linux/UNIX admin can handle about 150.

        So the cost is reduced by 50% even if the Linux/UNIX gets a higher pay.
        jessepollard
        • re: low cost of admins

          If a Windows admin can only manage 50 nodes, he'd be fired from any team i've ever worked on.

          100 servers per admin is the bare MINIUMUM in any (real) Windows shop.
          klashbrook@...
  • Wow, Windows is really inefficient

    Worse than I thougt. 1 Million servers running Windows is a scary thought. Actually, any server running Windows is scary.
    itguy10
    • It's actually more efficient than linux. You can host more running VM's

      on a Windows box than you can on Linux and the VM overhead is far less. On top of that IIS perf is far better than apache for both static and dynamic pages. google would be able to use a lot fewer hardware servers if they were running windows.
      Johnny Vegas
      • It's actually more efficient than linux. You can host more running VM's

        "It's actually more efficient than linux. You can host more running VM's on a Windows box than you can on Linux and the VM overhead is far less."

        That's interesting. And surprises me. Can you support that statement?

        (Surprise is good: it shows that there might be something to learn.)

        "On top of that IIS perf is far better than apache for both static and dynamic pages. google would be able to use a lot fewer hardware servers if they were running windows."

        I don't imagine that much of Google's workload is Apache: (a) I'd be surprised if they used Apache, and (b) surely the backend is where the majority of the load is.

        For google, I imagine that being in control of their whole stack is important, something that cannot be done with MS Windows (unless you are Microsoft, circling back to the topic at hand).
        HughRed
      • That isn't true.

        One Z machine handle some 1500.

        No windows possible.

        Even on systems using Intel CPUs, windows can't do better. I've seen a 16 core system supporting 30 some VMs on Linux.

        Of course, it did have 64 G of memory.

        Zero cost for 3 servers, One RH subscription for a fourth.
        jessepollard
      • Re: It's actually more efficient than linux

        Funny, you never hear of any successful Google/Facebook/Twitter-class enterprise trusting their data to Windows, in that league it's 100% Linux.
        ldo17
        • Most likely, because there are no license fees associated with Linux,

          and not because Linus is really superior or better or more efficient or can handle a bigger work-load.
          adornoe@...
    • Don't be stupid!

      It has nothing to do with efficiency, it's about capacity.
      toph36
    • Wow, itguy10 is really inefficient

      You use a lot of words to say you're scared and upset.
      William Farrel
  • Obviously this is a NSA server farm

    There can be no doubt that Microsoft gave the NSA, FBI and CIA keys to access all customer data on those servers. Microsoft cooperation with the government practically makes them a government agency.
    tjordanchat
    • I hear the local supermarket is having a sale on tinfoil

      In case you're running low on hats.
      William Farrel