While a tax law prompted Microsoft to move its cloud business Azure out of Washington state, the state just attracted a software company, VMWare, to build its data center in Wenatchee.
VMWare, a software company and Microsoft competitor in Palo Alto, Calif., opened a 61,000-square-foot data center in Wenatchee in January to consolidate several smaller labs and data centers the company was using to run and test its virtualization software. The company’s chief executive officer Paul Maritz, is a former top exeuctive at Microsoft.
Mark Thiele, business operations manager for research and development, said VMWare considered cost, environmental impact and power sources in choosing Wenatchee, an area known better for apples than Apples.
“All of those things came out positively for Wenatchee, which not only has hydroelectric from two dam, but it t also powers green,” Thiele said. “It also has access to good network, fiber for instance and just from a space and location perpsecitve it offered us the best combination of size and nearness to our location in Palo Alto.”
The new facility has incorporated energy-efficient features. It uses outside air to cool its servers, and recycles the heat generated by the servers to heat the office space. The grey water used by the facility is reused as irrigation water elsewhere in Wenatchee.
“The assumption from company standpoint is regardless of how good the source of the power is, we’re still using power and we want to be best possible citizens and not use any more power than we have to,” Thiele said.
He expects the new center to save the company $5 million a year in energy costs. The average data center takes in 2 megawatts to 2.4 megawatts of energy, spends most of it on cooling, sending only 1 megawatt of that energy to the servers, a ratio called power usage effectiveness. Thiele estimates that the new center will only take in 1.2 to 1.5 megawatts for every megawatt it sends to the servers.
Many tech companies are focusing on how to build more efficient data centers, the factories of the Internet. Here is a story we did on that.
Microsoft recently consolidated its own labs at Redmond Ridge.
Thiele said the tax law wasn’t that big a deal to VMWare. “It certainly had a little bit of an impact to push location in beginning we were hoping it would happen. But the truth is it was more icing on the cake,” he said. “Our next best pricing was a coal-fired data center in Oklahoma which VMWare shuddered at.”