Rethinking Mega-Data Centers

In a new paper, Microsoft researchers argue that "embarrassingly distributed cloud services" could be delivered through a dispersed network of data center containers.

On a day when Microsoft executives were unveiling one of the world's largest data center projects in San Antonio, some of its leading thinkers on data center design are arguing that the industry trend towards mega-datacenters "needs to be questioned."

Microsoft's James Hamilton, Ken Church and Albert Greenberg have published a paper for an upcoming ACM conference on "embarrassingly distributed cloud services" that could be delivered through a dispersed network of data center containers. These might include services such as online gaming, spam filtering and e-mail that could live close to the edge.

"Mega-datacenters remain useful and aren’t going away any time soon," Hamilton writes on his blog. "But we argue that distributed micro-datacenters are appropriate for many workloads and can reduce costs, improve the quality of service, and increase the speed of deployment." The researchers argue that a multi-faceted approach to infrastructure that combines mega-data centers and distributed containers could reduce costs.

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