Microsoft Heading Forward With Container-Based Data Centers

Not entirely related to virtualization as such, but hugely relevant as far we’re concerned: Microsoft is getting serious about embracing containers as the key to building scalable, energy-efficient cloud computing platforms. The company’s bold move is an affirmation of the potential for containers to address the most pressing power, cooling and capacity utilization challenges facing data center operators. Microsoft’s new 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.

DataCenterKnowledge quotes Microsoft Director of Data Center Services Michael Manos:

“The entire first floor of Chicago is going to be containers. This represents our first container data center. The containers are going to be dropped off and plugged into network cabling and power.” The second floor of the immense facility will be a traditional raised-floor data center, Manos said. “It’s a bold step forward. We’re trying to address scale with the cloud level services. We were trying to figure the best way to bring capacity online quickly.”

Manos added that the facility will accommodate between 150 and 220 shipping containers, which will be shipped and dropped off by trucks. That approach led Microsoft to consult with parking lot operators to address the design logistics of enabling large trucks to navigate within the facility.

In 2006, Sun Microsystems introduced Project Blackbox (now the Sun MD S20), the first effort at a “data center in a box” incorporating a high-density computing environment into a 20-foot shipping container. The containers can travel on trains, ships or trucks.

We were thinking about adding a joke about containers containing containers (you know, the software ones), but it’s getting late and we’ve had quite a busy, interesting day already.

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