Microsoft opens Chicago and Dublin datacenters; preps for more hosted offerings

Just a week after celebrating the opening its "chiller-free" Dublin datacenter, Microsoft is turning on its $500 million, 700,000-square-foot Chicago one. Microsoft is gearing up to support more customers using its hosted services and its Azure cloud environment.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Just a week after celebrating the opening its "chiller-free" Dublin datacenter, Microsoft is turning on its $500 million, 700,000-square-foot Chicago one.

Phase one of the Chicago datacenter opened on September 30. Microsoft is turning on power in phases there so "customers today will enjoy top-notch performance and availability while we control costs for Microsoft and its shareholders," according to a September 28 post on the Microsoft datacenters blog.

The Chicago datacenter is one of the largest datacenters in the world to make use of shipping containers, according to the company. Each of these containers holds 1,800 to 2,500 servers, which Microsoft officials have said enables the company to better conserve energy and take advantages of new power-effiency mechanisms.

"(T)he isolated nature of containers enables Microsoft and its vendors to research new approaches around power and cooling alternatives to reduce energy consumption even more in the future," according to the blog post from Arne Josefsberg, General Manager of Infrastructure Services for Microsoft's Global Foundation Services unit.

The Chicago center Chicago also is focused on "water-side economization, which enables us to cool the facility without requiring the high levels of electricity typically needed to power large chillers," according to Josefsberg.

Dublin, which is aimed primarily at fulfilling the cloud-service needs of Microsoft customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, officially began operations on July 1. According to Microsoft, it covers 303,000 square feet, and currently is providing 5.4 mega watts of critical power. It can expand to a total of 22.2 mega watts of critical power. Data Center Knowledge has photos of the Dublin datacenter here.

Speaking of Microsoft and its hosting plans, here is an interesting Azure roadmap slide from a September 2009 PowerPoint deck from Microsoft Application Architect David Gristwood. (Click on slide below to enlarge.)

This slide shows some of the features Microsoft is planning to offer as part of its Azure cloud platform this November, when it moves from beta to its first official release. It also includes information on what's on the team's plate for inclusion in Azure in the future, including System Center integration, enterprise ID federation, Common Language Runtime (CLR) support and analytics and reporting functionality.

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