Microsoft Unveils Wind-Powered Containers

DataCenterKnowledge posts on Microsoft's latest demonstration that leverages an advantage of containers.

Microsoft is thinking a lot of about green power these days, as Michael Manos explained at Data Center World. Manos, Microsoft's director of data center services, believes the federal government will become more active on power issues. "Sustainability regulation is coming," he said. "The conversation is not if, but when. It's more about what we're going to require companies to report against."

With some data centers now provisioning more than 100 megawatts of power, utility capacity is a primary issue in data center site location. But it's likely that green power profiles are beginning to gain more weight as companies decide between specific cities and utilities. For now, the percentage of renewable energy vs. coal in a utility's generating base is probably serving as a tiebreaker between competing locations.

But that may change as more companies offer carbon neutrality pledges and federal agencies weigh sustainable IT as a regulatory issue. This is an area where container solutions have the potential to be disruptive, allowing companies to move computing infrastructure to places where they can run on wind, hydro or solar power. Will we see cities of container data centers springing up next to utility-scale thermal solar power plants in the Mojave Desert? 

There are lots of potential scenarios, and it's hard to say how often green power plays using containers will work from an operational standpoint. But given data centers' energy use as a percentage of a company's total power bill, the math suggests these approaches will be seriously studied.