A report in the Des Moines Register is claiming to expose a major weakness in Microsoft's IT-PAC modular datacenter design; an inability to handle the extremely changeable Iowa weather patterns.
Apparently Microsoft is not too happy about the collection of PACs currently assembled as the first phase of the Iowa datacenter project and is planning on putting the next stage of the project under more secure cover in the form of a steel building to enclose the PACs.
With weather ranging from bitterly cold dry withers that can drop below zero to sweaty, sultry summer days that can hit the 90's with very high-humidity, the issues with keeping a datacenter temperature constant, especially if you are attempting to use external weather as part of your cooling model, are formidable. Add to this broad range of temperatures over the course of a year an interesting little twist found in the spring and sometimes fall; single day temperature swings of over 40 degrees. The louvered side construction of the standard Microsoft IT-=PAC would seem to be particularly vulnerable to this can of unpredictable weather.
The Des Moines, IA area is pushing hard to increase their attractiveness as a center for datacenter construction with both Microsoft and Google having a significant presence there due, in part, to the central location in the US, reliable power, excellent fiber network connectivity and an available educated workforce. Plus, of course, significant tax credits for these companies including a fresh set approved for Microsoft last month along with the authorization to increase the Microsoft datacenter size by 110,000 sq. ft..
While modular datacenters are critical components in rapid deployment of datacenters it looks like the facilities infrastructure has once again become a major concern for Microsoft, at least when it comes to building datacenters in Iowa.