Can Microsoft become a leader in datacenter design?

Microsoft's own datacenters benefit from being in the forefront of intelligent datacenter efficency and design.

Despite continual media coverage suggesting that Microsoft has missed their opportunity to be a cloud and mobile player, Microsoft continues to build and deliver cloud-based services that require a significant investment in infrastructure.  They must have a good idea of what the future holds and what needs to be done, as Apple recently grabbed Microsoft Data Center Services General Manager Kevin Timmons to lead up some as yet undisclosed Apple datacenter effort.

Under the direction of Christian Belady, Microsoft's general manager of Datacenter Advanced Development, Microsoft's newest datacenters have taken the approach that minimizing the amount of power that the datacenters uses to support data processing is an excellent place to start getting savings with energy efficiency. And with the opening of major new datacenters in the last few years, in Dublin, Ireland and Quincy, Massachusetts, Microsoft is able to see how well their planning and projects has translated into the reality of operations.

With historical data Microsoft can claim a PUE of 1.25 for their Dublin facility, and the design of the modular Quincy facility has an even lower target PUE.  Much of this PUE improvement, over traditional datacenters, comes from using outside air for cooling (airside economizers n the parlance of the trade) that reduces the need to chillers and other cooling specific equipment which is a major user of energy.

Microsoft is actively using the Green Grid guideline benchmarks, Power Usage Effectives (PUE), and the new Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE0, and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) metrics, which Belady co-developed, as models for evaluating the long-term efficiency of their datacenter operations. These  Green Grid-driven metrics are being adopted broadly across the datacenter industry, and Microsoft is right there at the front of the line.