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