Microsoft To Build Two More Data Centers in Virginia

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The exterior of the Microsoft data center in Boydton, Virginia. The company said today that it will invest $348 million to build two more facilities at the site. (Photo: Microsoft)

Microsoft Corp. will invest an additional $348 million to expand its modular data center site in southern Virginia, the company said today. The company will build two additional facilities on its data center campus to increase capacity to serve its growing customer base. The expansion boosts Microsoft’s investment in its Virginia data center campus to $997 million.

The expansion is part of an ongoing data center construction program as Microsoft builds future capacity for its battle with Google and other leading players in cloud computing. It has built rapidly at its Virginia facility since it was announced in 2010.

“This expansion will allow us to meet the growing demand from consumers and businesses for our cloud services in the region in an increasingly efficient manner,” said Christian Belady, general manager of Microsoft Data Center Services. ”These facilities showcase state-of-the-art designs developed from our latest technology and infrastructure research that continues to minimize water, energy use, and building costs, while increasing computing capacity, software capabilities, and server utilization.”

Focus on Modular Design

Microsoft’s Boydton facility features the use of a container-based design known as an IT-PAC (short for Pre-Assembled Component). The IT-PAC serves as the foundation of a broader shift to a modular, component-based design that offers cost-cutting opportunities at almost every facet of the project. They are designed to operate in all environments, and employ a free cooling approach in which fresh air is drawn into the enclosure through louvers in the side of the container – which effectively functions as a huge air handler with racks of servers inside.

Microsoft’s original project in 2010 involved an investment of up to $499 million and 50 new jobs. In 2011 the company invested an additional $150 million to expand the site.  The latest expansion project will create 30 new jobs.

“In 2010 we were confident that Microsoft’s plans to establish one of its most advanced data centers in Mecklenburg County would be a transformational project,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “This second expansion within 16 months of the previous one is a great testament to Microsoft’s success and commitment to Virginia. The company continues to grow its cloud operations, representing a total of nearly one billion dollars in capital investment. The Commonwealth is one of the most active data center markets in the country, and Microsoft’s rapid development helps continue to establish us an industry leader.”

The Microsoft expansion will be supported by $2.2 million in public funding, including $2 million in funds from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and $200,000 from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.

Microsoft’s data centers are a key component in a major business shift at the company, which is expanding beyond its traditional desktop software business to offer cloud computing services, in which Microsoft’s applications will be hosted in its data centers and delivered over the Internet.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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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