Microsoft's 224,000 Servers Fit Into 112 Containers and Only Take Four People to Set Up

There are 2,000 in that container. And there are 112 such containers in Microsoft's $500 million Chicago data center. It may seem somewhat ridiculous, but this container-based data center design is absolutely brilliant (and environmentally sustainable to boot).

While we haven't seen Microsoft's newest data center, we hear that it has 700,000 square feet of space, really, really high ceilings, and 40-foot stacks of server-filled containers. Thinking about the stacks may leave me with vertigo, but thinking about the ingenuity of the design leaves me impressed: Microsoft has built something which'll "deliver huge benefits in cost, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability."


All those containers are plug-and-play in a way, complete with corresponding bays, and can be set up by "as few as four employees" in hours. Yes, they've designed it so that moving 60 ton stacks of servers requires only four people. If that's not incredible then let's consider that the place has a huge focus on being energy efficient: Despite the facility having a 30-megawatt power capacity, steps have been taken to make it as economical and sustainable as possible:

[T]he Chicago site employs water-side economization [which takes] advantage of cool outside air to reduce the data center's reliance upon power-hungry chillers to produce chilled water. Air economizers introduce fresh air into the data center, while water-side economizers use cooling towers to remove waste heat.

Basically Microsoft is cutting down energy waste, saving on labor, and being all-around economical. While the modular, server-in-a-box approach might not get the stamp of revolutionary, the way Microsoft is approaching it is something worth paying attention to because it might just be what'll help "meet the demand for cloud computing at scale." [Data Center Knowledge]

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