Microsoft’s Chrapaty: We’re Scaling Big-Time

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Microsoft is rapidly scaling its data center infrastructure, adding as many as 20,000 servers per quarter, according to Debra Chrapaty, the company’s ?Corporate Vice President of Global Foundation Services. Chrapaty, who spoke about Microsoft’s infrastructure in a recent interview on the company’s Channel 9 video service, is the executive responsible for the global network and data centers for Windows Live.

“When I came to the company (in 2003) we had more than 10,000 servers in production,” Chrapaty said. “Now we sometimes add more than double that per quarter.” In the segment of the interview that deals specifically with Microsoft’s data centers (roughly from minutes 25 to 32 of the 57-minute video) Chrapaty addresses the comparisons between Microsoft and Google:

We’re doing amazing work. Right now they’re the darlings, and they’re doing good work. But we’re doing equally good work. Google gets all the limelight right now, but I can tell you we’re just as innovative, if not more innovative. So Google has nothing on us. We read about all their data centers and how they’re scaling exponentially and making massive investments in infrastructure. We are, too.

Chrapaty noted the significance of Microsoft’s recently-opened facility in Quincy, Washington. Microsoft was the first company to announce a data center in Quincy, which at 1.9 cents per kilowatt has some of the cheapest power in the nation, and has since become a destination for several other projects. “It’s a huge coup for the company,” said Chrapaty. “We rank a bunch of criteria in where we’re going to put data centers, and one of the most pervasive and heavily weighted ones is power.”


While not revealing any details, Chrapaty said Microsoft is focused on efficiency within the data center. “We’re doing some great innovations in power that are really going to change the industry,” she said. “We’re doing a lot within the complete rack architecture – including some augmentation to the operating system that only we can do because we’re Microsoft – that’s going to optimize that density.”

Chrapaty, whose pre-Microsoft resume includes positions as CTO of NBA.com and president and COO of E*TRADE Technologies, also spoke enthusiastically about the potential for unstaffed data centers (a concept which was also discussed in recent presentations on modular data centers by Microsoft systems architect James Hamilton).

“I’m really a fan of the automation piece,” said Chrapaty. “The idea is zero human beings (in the data center), and let the human beings work on innovation in the operations sphere of the business. I’d love to have a data center where you come in once a month (just to change bad blades)… kinda lights out. That way we can hit million and millions of servers, and do it really efficiently.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.