218,000 Servers in Microsoft Data Centers?

Microsoft has never said how many servers it has in its data centers. But it may have inadvertently spilled the beans in a video touting its environmental initiatives.

Sharp-eyed blogger Long Zheng at istartedsomething was watching a promotional video from Microsoft’s Environmental Sustainability group and noticed short clips of screens from SCRY, the in-house software Microsoft uses to monitor and manage its data centers. We’ve gotten brief glimpses of SCRY data in other videos and presentations by Microsoft executives.

But this time the screens revealed shots that appear to summarize server counts and energy usage across Microsoft’s data centers through January 2008. Zheng grabbed screen shots from the video Q&A with Microsoft Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard.

The SCRY screen grabs indicate Microsoft had 15 data centers hosting 148,357 servers sitting on 17,406 racks consuming 72,500KW of utility power as of the end of January 2008. Zheng notes that Microsoft data center executives have said the company is adding 10,000 servers per month, which projects out to an August total of approximately 218,000 servers. He also looks at the breakdown among Microsoft properties:

Live Search is in the clear lead with approximately 75,000 (50%) of the servers pushing out those less-than-desirable search results, followed by Hotmail. The other notable property occupying a large chunk of the servers would be “other” (appropriately named), which one could assume be dedicated to XBOX Live services and the like.

The server count screen from SCRY show that Microsoft added about 9,000 servers in November 2007 and another 15,000 in January 2008.

Are these numbers for real? They’re certainly plausible server counts. Microsoft has indicated that it may be able to pack up to 300,000 servers into the data center “container farm” it is building on the first floor of its new Chicago data center. By packing the 40-foot shipping containers with data center equipment, Microsoft will be able to manage extraordinarily dense server environments. At TechEd 2008, Bill Gates predicted the company will soon have “many millions of servers” to power its online services.

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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.

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  1. My best friend works at the Campus in Redmond and as of August 24 the last date I spoke to him Microsoft had 279,323 servers worldwide. Including 113 sun based servers. More then half are white boxes and least used and most often replaced are Dells.