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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Microsoft expands Quincy data center

Microsoft said it will open a second data center in Quincy in central Washington early this year. The new data center will be modular in design, with blocks of pre-assembled data centers the size of shipping containers all parked together in a barnlike facility. It will run Microsoft Online Services, which could include cloud computing services such as Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint and Office 365, although Microsoft declined to be specific.

The expansion is about 125,000 square feet, said Pat Boss, public affairs manager for the Port of Quincy. Microsoft already has a 500,000-square-foot data center in Quincy, using older data center building models. It also has large data centers in Chicago and Dublin.

Each new module can hold between 400 and 2,000 servers, and has its own water, electricity, mechanical and security systems built in. “Our modular design enables us to build a facility in significantly less time while reducing capital costs by an average of 50 to 60 percent over the lifetime of the project,” wrote Kevin Timmons, general manager of data services at Microsoft on a company blog. Microsoft has been pushing data center design to reduce energy use and building costs.

Timmons compared it to tractor sheds he grew up around in Illinois. “The structure is virtually transparent to ambient outdoor conditions, allowing us to essentially place our servers and storage outside in the cool air while still protecting it from the elements,” Timmons wrote. “And, like any good barn, the protective shell serves to keep out critters and tumbleweeds.” He said Microsoft is planning additional phases, which will be built based on demand.

Pat Boss at Quincy credits the new development to the tax break the state Legislature passed to stimulate the building of new server farms. “The taxes have spurred a lot of new development,” he said.

Yahoo is expanding its data center in the area as well, although Boss says the design is different.

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