Microsoft Says Chicago Project Moving Ahead

Microsoft (MSFT) says its $500 million Chicago data center is moving forward, even though construction activity has scaled down in recent weeks.

A look at the huge Microsoft data center being built in Northlake, Illinois.

Microsoft says work on its $500 million Chicago data center continues to move forward, although the company has reduced the size of the workforce at the site.

Mike Manos, the general manager of data center for Microsoft Global Foundation Services, said the character of construction activity at the site has changed as some phases of work have been completed and testing has begun on the data center containers that feature prominently in the facility's design.

"Previously, we had a crew of over 900 working 24x7, with 3 separate shifts," said Manos. "We are now completing the current phase of construction with a crew of approximately 450 craftspeople working one shift of 40 hours a week."

The Chicago facility is part of the company’s fleet of next-generation data centers being built to support its Live suite of “software plus services” online applications. Microsoft announced in April that it will forego a traditional raised-floor environment and instead fill one floor of the huge facility with up to 220 shipping containers packed with servers.

Microsoft (MSFT) has since extended its commitment to containers, unveiling its Generation 4 Modular Data Center design, which relies entirely upon containerized servers and electrical equipment, and will have no roofs.

But the company has said it will reduce its data center investment to acknowledge the slowing economy. In October Microsoft said it would cut $300 million from a 2008 capital budget totaling $4 billion.

InternetNews.com this week cited an unnamed "source close to the construction" saying that that work in Chicago had been "significantly scaled back and much is left uncompleted." The report said containers are stored at the facility but not hooked up.

Microsoft has said it intends to hold one of its Microsoft Data Center Experience (MDX) events at the Chicago data center in the spring. The company held its first MDX in conjunction with the opening of its San Antonio data center in September.

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