Microsoft To Open Green Cloud Dublin, Chicago Data Centres

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Microsoft plans to roll out two new data centres in Dublin and Chicago in July, preparing for increased demand for cloud-based services such as Azure and Bing.

Microsoft plans to open two new data centres in the US and Ireland in July.

The Dublin data centre, which the company touts as the “first mega-data centre Microsoft has built outside the US,” will enclose over 300,000 square feet of space. The Chicago data centre will be nearly twice as large at 700,000 square feet – roughly the size of 16 football fields.

“Two thirds of the Chicago data centre is optimised for housing containerised servers,” Arne Josefsberg, general manager of the infrastructure services division of Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services, wrote in a post on the MS Datacentres blog yesterday.

“Containers conserve energy and will help us realise new advancements in power efficiency with a PUE [power usage effectiveness] yearly average calculated at 1.22. These pre-packaged units (with up to 1,800 to 2,500 servers each) can be wheeled into the facility and made operational within hours, so they represent important advances in the ability to quickly and efficiently provision capacity.”

The Dublin facility has also been designed with energy efficiency in mind. In place of chillers or cooling towers, rooftop air handling units will drag outside air into the server rooms and then pull the return air from the racks through the rooftop, reducing the facility’s carbon footprint and resulting in an annual PUE average of 1.25.

The extra data centre capacity comes as Microsoft gears up Bing, its new search engine, and Azure, its cloud-based platform solution. Originally rolled out in October 2008 at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, Azure will eventually go head-to-head with and Google in offering software-as-a-service (SaaS) to its users via distributed data centres.

Reports suggest that Azure will be generally available before the next PDC in November, and Microsoft is evidently preparing for what it perceives as an increase in demand.

Meanwhile, Bing continues to perform strongly against search rivals Google and Yahoo, placing additional demand on Microsoft’s data centres. From 8 to 12 June, Microsoft’s share of search result pages in the US increased to 12.1 percent, a rise of 3 percent from the week before Bing’s 1 June release.

Bing represents a reversal of fortunes for Microsoft in the search engine space; according to research company Nielsen, Microsoft’s share of the search engine market had been falling before the release of Bing.