NYTimes Data Center Story, Breaking The Rules

I had some friends check out DataCenterKnowledge’s post on a NYTimes feature article, “Data Center Overload” coming out this Sunday in the Magazine.  Rich Miller has a great quote from the article.

Trying to chart the cloud’s geography can be daunting, a task that is further complicated by security concerns. “It’s like ‘Fight Club,’ ” says Rich Miller, whose Web site, Data Center Knowledge, tracks the industry. “The first rule of data centers is: Don’t talk about data centers.”


The above is from a slide show.

This article must have been in the works for a while as Mike Manos is in the article as a Microsoft employee and “Manos” show up 9 times in the article.

As I pulled up to it in a Prius with Michael Manos, who was then Microsoft’s general manager of data-center services, he observed that while “most people wouldn’t be able to tell this wasn’t just a giant warehouse,” an experienced eye could discern revelatory details. “You would notice the plethora of cameras,” he said. “You could follow the power lines.” He gestured to a series of fluted silver pipes along one wall. “Those are chimney stacks, which probably tells you there’s generators behind each of those stacks.” The generators, like the huge banks of U.P.S. (uninterruptible power supply) batteries, ward against surges and power failures to ensure that the data center always runs smoothly.

Google is mentioned 12 times.

Microsoft is mentioned 22 times.

Yahoo  - 3

Amazon - 4

Facebook – 13

Microsoft wins with the positiong battle, and has the last 2 paragraphs.

“Our perspective long term is: It’s not a building, it’s a piece of equipment,” says Daniel Costello, Microsoft’s director of data-center research, “and the enclosure is not there to protect human occupancy; it’s there to protect the equipment.”

From here, it is easy to imagine gradually doing away with the building itself, and its cooling requirements, which is, in part, what Microsoft is doing next, with its Gen 4 data center in Dublin. One section of the facility consists of a series of containers, essentially parked and stacked amid other modular equipment — with no roof or walls. It will use outside air for cooling. On our drive to Tukwila, Manos gestured to an electrical substation, a collection of transformers grouped behind a chain-link fence. “We’re at the beginning of the information utility,” he said. “The past is big monolithic buildings. The future looks more like a substation — the data center represents the information substation of tomorrow.”

Articles like this are exposing data centers and making it hard to abide by the rule - “The first rule of data centers is: Don’t talk about data centers.”

This is just the beginning of breaking the rules in data centers.