Microsoft Data Center Battles Server Hugging

Microsoft (MSFT) has provided a look inside a new, 50,000 square foot data center facility in Redmond, Washington where it is consolidating servers for its research unit and labs

Microsoft has provided a look inside a new data center facility in Redmond, Washington where it is consolidating servers for its research unit and labs. The company says the consolidation, which physically separates Microsoft engineers from the servers running their test code, enables an important shift to remote computing. After all, if Microsoft expects its customers to run their apps remotely in the cloud, shouldn't its employees do the same?

Microsoft says remote server management requires an internal culture shift. The need to be near one's servers - a tendency known as "server hugging" - is deeply rooted and can play a large role in a company's decisions on outsourcing and data center site location.

The 50,000 square foot Redmond Ridge 1 data center is about eight miles from Microsoft's headquarters campous in Redmond. The facility is considerably smaller than the massive data centers the company has built to support its online services operation, but will still be able to house 35,000 to 50,000 servers. The new facility is helping Microsoft save energy by consolidating servers from a bevy of server rooms in office buildings and centralizing them in a dedicated building designed for energy efficiency.

The data center, which opened last summer, is cooled primarily through air-side economization or free cooling. The company expects that it will be able to cool its servers with outside air for 95 percent of the year. The facility was previously a warehouse that was converted for data center usage, and was open to local reporters for a tour yesterday.

Microsoft says the new center reflects a culture change for its engineers. "It changes the behavior radically, in my opinion, especially for people like me who've been at the company more than a decade," Microsoft's chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard, told TechFlash. "I see today as a real transition point in our company's culture, as much as anything else."

See TechFlash and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for more details.

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