Nick Carr is reporting that Microsoft (MSFT) is set to unveil the next phase of its cloud computing strategy, which will include a massive acceleration in their data center construction program. The scope of the Microsoft data center network described by Nick’s sources will be historic:
The construction program will be “totally over the top,” said a person briefed on the plan. The first phase of the buildout, said the source, will include the construction of about two dozen data centers around the world, each covering about 500,000 square feet or more. The timing of the construction is unclear.
Twenty four 500,000 square foot data centers adds up to 12 million square feet of data center space. That’s equivalent to filling 65 Wal-Mart Supercenters with servers. It would be a computing footprint more than twice the size of the Vatican; an expansion more than half-again as large as IBM’s entire 8 million square feet of data center space. And Nick uses the term “first phase.”
It should be noted that this is still a rumor. But in the wake of its $44 billion takeover bid for Yahoo, it’s clear that Microsoft’s leadership believes that bold strokes are necessary to alter the state of play in its battle with Google (GOOG) for Internet leadership. Google executives have always pointed to the company’s massive data center infrastructure as a key competitive differentiator. It would appear that Microsoft is ready to bring the battle to the data center in earnest.
Here’s an intriguing possibility: One of Microsoft’s chief weapons in the next phase of the data center arms race could be the container-based data center. Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Global Foundation Services, said the company is prototyping containerized data centers that can manage power loads exceeding 1,000 watts per square foot, and is looking at deploying some in the company’s new 550,000 square foot Chicago data center. Chrapaty said her goal is nothing less than to “reinvent infrastructure for the industry.”