Microsoft's Big Bet On The Cloud and Search

New Microsoft Cloud Data Centers Means Moving A Lot Of Dirt Here On Earth

Microsoft's set to bring online two new data centers, one in Chicago and the other in Dublin with 700,000 and 300,000 square feet of space respective. One of the things that's been talked about quite a bit, and that I also find fascinating, is Microsoft's use of cargo like containers. Just like you and I slide a new blade into a blade server, Microsoft's doing that at a container sized level, each housing +/- 2,000 servers. The first floor of the data center is set up so these containers can be plugged in or pulled out of the data center. wow, imagine the size of that backplane connector! Whew, lol.

What these data centers really represent is the massive bet Microsoft is making in its future, online cloud services and search. I'm surprised, but Bing's been very well received. Not everyone knew they needed a search engine other than Google and Microsoft surprised us with an offering that's different, more concise and compact than treading through pages of Google's results. Old habits are sometimes hard to break as I've used Bing when Google search didn't give me what I wanted, and surprising Bing has done well in those situations. Maybe Microsoft's bet with Bing (say that 5 times fast) will pan out and result in filling up big portions of those data centers with Bing crawlers and servers and lots of information about us.

It's clear to me (pun intended) that Microsoft's future is all about getting their software into the cloud and offering it through services. About two years ago I was doing some research to try and analyze how Microsoft would deal with all of the virtualization, and at the time, new SaaS services springing up. The answer was for Microsoft to do it's own SaaS-like offering with their products, but do that across their entire stack of software, enabling applications to run and migrate from desktop to the cloud. Ray Ozzie's presence at Microsoft was one of the tip offs for me, with this pineapple upside down cake Lotus Notes model of data and computing distribution. I think sync technology (Live Mesh, Live Framework) are also hugely important strategic bets for Microsoft. Since then we now see the beginnings of Microsoft's cloud platform.

The investment Microsoft's made in this strategy has got to mean massive amounts of human and financial capital. Think about all the bets they've placed; data centers, search, Hyper-V virtualization, app virtualization, Live Services, sync technologies, and retooling all their entire product line to operate in customer data centers or in the cloud. The data center investments in Chicago and Dublin are physical manifestations of that bet, but the software investments go far beyond.

Ultimately, Microsoft's future is riding on its ability to fill up those data centers and need a lot more.

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