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Microsoft Plans $1 Billion Server Farm In Iowa

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the plenty-of-ethanol-to-go-around dept.

Data Storage 86

1sockchuck (826398) writes "Microsoft will invest $1.1 billion to build a massive new server farm in Iowa, not far from an existing data center in West Des Moines. The 1.2 million square foot campus will be one of the biggest in the history of the data center industry. It further enhances Iowa's status as the data center capital of the Midwest, with Google and Facebook also operating huge server farms in the state."

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Server farm in Iowa. Who knew! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793819)

you can grow servers from seed. Does Monsanto know about this???

Re:Server farm in Iowa. Who knew! (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#46793843)

Internet is for corn!

Re:Server farm in Iowa. Who knew! (1)

whovian (107062) | about 7 months ago | (#46794521)

Internet is for cr0n!

FTFY

Re:Server farm in Iowa. Who knew! (1)

antdude (79039) | about 7 months ago | (#46796381)

I read that as Internet is for com! :P

Re:Server farm in Iowa. Who knew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46800135)

I guess this means Iowa is leaving the Stone Age to what? Neolithic? Bronze would be too advanced for them.

But can it fix the (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#46793825)

Windows 9.1 Update?

Re:But can it fix the (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46793845)

Everything should be fine in Windows 9.1 Update 1 Refresh 1 Patchouli 1.

But it will work in the next release... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793999)

But it will work in the next release... after they get the viruses out.

Re:But can it fix the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794357)

Dream..on, for Windows 9---until maybe the later part of this year(2014)............."maybe".

Re:But can it fix the (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#46796021)

Yay. A start button that isn't filled with tiles!

Saves about $38 million in taxes (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46793827)

Makes sense, it saves about $38 million in taxes which you guys are going to have to cough up instead of Microsoft.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793885)

The state could pay those 84 people $50k per year for the 6 years to do nothing at all, and still come out better than this "deal"

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (4, Insightful)

manquer (1950350) | about 7 months ago | (#46793915)

Very rarely the number of people directly employed makes the difference, If Microsoft is spending $1 Billion in the state, it will probably source significant % of components locally( usually part of any tax break agreement), that will generate lot of business for the local economy, the vendors will in turn will be ordering components, magnifying the effect on the economy, the state tax on all these other transactions will perhaps offset the breaks given to Microsoft.

On the other hand, paying 84 people for 6 years will do very little for the economy by itself

That's the Hollywood argument (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46793975)

That's the Hollywood argument. So how's the Californian government getting on after all that tax evasion?
The reality is no trickle down but instead just hitting someone else for the funds and ultimately a different industry hobbled due to not being picked as a winner.

Re:That's the Hollywood argument (2)

superdana (1211758) | about 7 months ago | (#46795691)

That's the Hollywood argument. So how's the Californian government getting on after all that tax evasion?

Pretty well. [sfgate.com]

Re:That's the Hollywood argument (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#46796025)

Yeah, this a "get your trickle of taxes from somebody else, we're too big and important to pay our share."

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (2)

citizenr (871508) | about 7 months ago | (#46794339)

Very rarely the number of people directly employed makes the difference, If Microsoft is spending $1 Billion in the state, it will probably source significant % of components locally

Sure, they will buy all those locally build processors and memory chips.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46794897)

Corn chips, memory chips. To a politician it's all the same.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794675)

If Microsoft is spending $1 Billion in the state, it will probably source significant % of components locally

Riiight.

Hard drives, cables, switches, routers, CPUs, ram, steel, plastic are all made in Iowa.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (3, Insightful)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#46795381)

On the other hand, paying 84 people for 6 years will do very little for the economy by itself

Strippers and fast food restaurants disagree.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46794153)

All states do this. To attract big projects each state offers lower taxes for a period of time, free or discounted utilities, temporary changes to regulation etc... Whomever makes the best offer gets the facility. The state will collect far more than $38 million from the people that work there's income taxes alone. Not that the state/city can't make mistakes if they're stupid... but this deal isn't bad for the state at all.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 months ago | (#46794459)

The state will collect far more than $38 million from the people that work there's income taxes alone.

Microsoft will create 84 jobs when fully built out, with 66 of those jobs required to have a wage of $24.32 an hour.

$24 an hour is ~$40,000 after federal taxes and social security.
According to my math, at Iowa's 6.8% tax rate, it'll only take ~208 years to recoup $38 million in personal income taxes.

Those other 18 jobs are undoubtedly for security guards and janitorial staff, at an even lower wage.
So don't count on that to noticeably bump up the average.

TLDR: Microsoft is getting a lot of tax breaks and subsidies in return for bupkiss.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes - NOT (2)

uberdilligaff (988232) | about 7 months ago | (#46794477)

Your math skills need considerable upgrade. Making conservative estimates (ignoring deductions, using the unmarried tax rates, etc), a $60K job pays $3700 per year in Iowa state income tax. 84 of those amounts to $310,800 per year. 10 years brings $3,108,000 to the state. In 100 years, the state will not recoup the $38 million in taxes from worker income taxes alone.

Math is more informative than off-the-cuff assertions. Embrace it.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes - NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46795005)

Sports team stadiums have taught us that you need to multiply your ROI estimation by a few magnitudes of order. Not for accuracy, but to justify giving breaks or subsidies to corporations who are helping us finish the race to bottom more quickly. Since we're inevitably going to shit, might as well get it over with.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes - NOT (0)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | about 7 months ago | (#46798087)

Math is more informative than off-the-cuff assertions. Embrace it.

Mod parent up! The entire post is solid, but this quote is solid gold on top of that!

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794291)

I'm self-employed. Because of higher taxes (I live in Quebec, where the government is finding new ways to tax people every year), gas price and a higher cost of living in general, I had to raise my hourly rate in order to have the same standard of living. So when you think about it, it means it's not me who is paying my taxes, but "you guys".

You think big corporations are different? You think they pay their taxes out of their pockets?

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (1)

mrbcs (737902) | about 7 months ago | (#46795003)

You have my sympathies for having the misfortune of living in the highest taxed jurisdiction in Canada.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 months ago | (#46794611)

Many taxpayer billions go into Iowa farms that don't grow servers.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794839)

Plenty of local economic activity (such as constructing the facility) will happen and generate tax revenues.

Locations which want business must compete, for they are essentially businesses themselves.

The option not to compete exists. Good luck with that.

Re:Saves about $38 million in taxes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46797433)

Plenty of local economic activity (such as constructing the facility) will happen and generate tax revenues.

Bullshit. George Bush Sr. was right to call this shit voodoo economics.

Why 1.1 billion? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#46793847)

Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793857)

Dollars are a measure of importance. If such an encrusted Pi were actually constructed, it would indeed be newsworthy.

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (3, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 7 months ago | (#46793903)

Dollars are a measure of importance. If such an encrusted Pi were actually constructed, it would indeed be newsworthy.

Dollars are speech. Just ask the US Supreme Court.

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794117)

(dollars==importance && dollars == speech) => (importance == speech)

Some people are not important enough to have their opinions heard. If all the humans were shipped off seas, the remaining corporations would have roughly equal amounts of importance, and then there would be democracy again.

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793863)

.... A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

Yea but does it run Windoze? Pretty usless to Micro$oft if it doesn't...

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794045)

No, it couldn't. M$ couldn't afford the licensing tab for all those CPUs... must be FOSS....

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#46796875)

There have been substantial periods in the past where Microsoft web servers ran Linux.

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793989)

Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

Yes, it could. And if such a Raspberry Pi would exist, much like the data center designs of the largest providers in the world, you would know very little about it for security reasons.

Besides, what's the point? You would geek out over it for about five fucking minutes until the Next Big Thing comes along and makes This Big Thing look like shit by comparison.

This isn't about technical details. This is about one-upmanship between billionaires. That was obvious when I read "biggest in the history". That statement reeks of biggest eDick syndrome.

Re:Why 1.1 billion? (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 7 months ago | (#46794847)

Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

Yes, it could. And if such a Raspberry Pi would exist, much like the data center designs of the largest providers in the world, you would know very little about it for security reasons.

The price tag is more important in this case because it probably *does* reflect the scale and possible power of the project. It's not likely to be being expensive for the sake of being expensive

The hypothetical Raspberry Pi isn't a good comparison, since it was contrived for the sake of being expensive and none of that expense has much effect on the core function. Real-world examples of such devices- i.e. much, *much* cheaper devices with masses of expensive trim glued on (such as "the world's first Arab supercar [slashdot.org] ", (*) Vertu phones [wikipedia.org] et al) would only ever be made as status symbols, so they're not likely to be kept secret, and the type of people who own them would probably be able to keep them secure when not in use (**), you just lock them away.

By contrast, the data centre is expensive for a reason, serves a purpose and can't be locked away. Not really that good a comparison.

(*) Where I already criticised the ludicrous contrived expense of such tacky bling-ified items by pointint out that one could make the world's most expensive car by gluing the Koh-i-Noor diamond to an ageing Vauxhall Corsa, yet its "value" would say sod all about its core function as a car itself.

(**) "In use" being when they want to impress someone who's as much of a bell-end as they are, or lure some gold-digger into bed.

But what about Detroit?!?! (0)

tlambert (566799) | about 7 months ago | (#46793849)

But what about Detroit?!?!

There was an article earlier about it on Slashdot and everything?!?

http://tech.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

Re:But what about Detroit?!?! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793853)

Maybe they want to keep their servers from ending up in the local pawn shop...

Alternative power? (4, Funny)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#46793907)

Are they going to run it off any alternative power sources?

I could see a pig shit methane plant, Iowa produces 1/4 of all pork in the US.

Re:Alternative power? (4, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | about 7 months ago | (#46793997)

Are they going to run it off any alternative power sources?

I could see a pig shit methane plant, Iowa produces 1/4 of all pork in the US.

Microsoft converted a long time ago. Unfortunately, they suffered a methane meltdown sometime around 2012 that contaminated their production floor.

I'm rather surprised you didn't catch a whiff of this while running Windows 8...

Microsoft's Secret (1)

mod prime (3597787) | about 7 months ago | (#46794705)

Methane is odourless :)

Re:Microsoft's Secret (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 7 months ago | (#46794771)

Methane is odourless :)

Part of the meltdown revealed a code leak in microsoft/source/methane. It was partially corrupted, but revealed /pigshi, /marketi, and /lawye as subfolders.

Needless to say their source wasn't exactly /pure, hence the stench.

Re:Microsoft's Secret (1)

swillden (191260) | about 7 months ago | (#46795253)

Methane is odourless :)

Pig shit, not so much.

Re:Alternative power? (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 7 months ago | (#46794037)

And a lot of wind - currently closing in on 30% of electricity generation.

Re:Alternative power? (1)

Xipher (868293) | about 7 months ago | (#46794311)

There are a few wind power farms in Iowa.

Yeah (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793911)

there's huge demand for NSA run hosting facilities worldwide.

Yawn. (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 7 months ago | (#46793919)

It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this. They persist in visions of row upon row of cubicles filled with hard-working, high-paid, tax-paying programmers. When, in fact, after construction, the total payroll is little different from a simple warehouse or small wholesale distro center that they would never consider paying any incentives to attract. The data center might have a half-dozen or so skilled tech workers, if that, and the rest of the staff are going to be low-paid parts-swapping monkeys. The "real" work will all be done remotely. If you have a limited incentives budget, why spend it on a data center?

Moreover, unless the community is blessed with a large amount of "spare" power (like areas with oversized nuc plants or the cheap hydro in the Northwest) all that grid capacity going into a power-hungry, job-poor, data center could be better spent on other projects.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794017)

This is windows... it will need at least one click monkey per 50 nodes...
Plus hundreds of shift managers...
Plus hundreds of project managers...
Plus HR
Plus center manager
Plus asstants
Plus a hundred or so secretaries, security guards, landscaping, maintenance workers...

And a whole new power company...

Re:Yawn. (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#46794449)

Nah, this is for hotmail. It will run BSD. So only about 5 bearded gurus and a coffee and donut shop is required.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46795665)

I don't have a beard you insensitive clod.

Re: Yawn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794063)

What's interesting is how many northern areas, with an excess of cold and an excess of power, don't try to attract at least some capacity from the big data center players. Some governments and energy companies are smart about this. And some are just downright dumb.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794343)

Iowa has a huge surplus of power. It has more wind power than any state but Texas. Wholesale power prices in Iowa are often negative (as in, everything else is running at minimum, and you have to pay me to turn off my wind turbine and give up the tax credits), because there is not enough transmission to get the power anywhere. Add that to cheap skilled labor (IA State engineering is well-respected), and it makes all the sense in the world.

Re:Yawn. (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46794345)

The incentives are in the form of tax breaks. A big data center like this will still generate some tax dollars and add to the local economy - enough to cover the additional expenses. The rest is just funny money, tax revenues they wouldn't have collected without the project, so no loss.

Re:Yawn. (2)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 7 months ago | (#46794563)

It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this.

Because they can point to a single structure and say "I helped make this happen." Even if it's a losing proposition most voters will still feel that at least the politician is doing something. It's a lot harder to keep tax laws equal for all and point to the gains which get spread around to everybody and in a re-election campaign say that the small growth everyone is realizing is due to your policies.

Re:Yawn. (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 months ago | (#46794729)

It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this.

That's easy.
Nobody ever does a ROI study.
Not after 1 year, after 3 years, or after 5 years.

The States/Counties take the puffed up corporate predictions at face value and then nobody checks to see that the promised value (but not in any legal binding way) is actually created.

The thing is, the companies are honest (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 7 months ago | (#46805503)

So far, the announcements of data center projects I've seen seem to be pretty realistic estimates of the job count and average salary of the workers. It's like the officials hear the word "Microsoft" "Google" "Apple" "Amazon", etc., and shut down all critical thinking skills.

Reminds me of driving down I-81 in rural VA and driving past a sign announcing the "Southwest VA Technology Corridor" or somesuch, just as I entered a cell phone dead zone. Commerce dept. types seem to think that the mere presence of a pile of machines, or a self-proclaimed "innovation zone" will magically bring in hundreds of overpaid engineers to revive a No-where-ville economy.

The Corn! (2)

jamesl (106902) | about 7 months ago | (#46793929)

Oh, the corn. Think of the corn. Children will starve in Des Moines.

Re:The Corn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793967)

Man with lisp pronounce it as Death Moans.

Re:The Corn! (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46794869)

More like:

(defun pronounce ("Des Moines") "Death Moans")

Is it far enough away ? (3, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 7 months ago | (#46793971)

The project Alluvion site is approximately 8 miles east from the current Microsoft data center in West Des Moines

8 miles is not far. It is not too hard to envisage a disaster that could affect both sites at once. For starters: Iowa is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. They are close enough that power supplies and Internet connections will be 'related'. OK: it makes it easier for staff to visit both sites, but 80 miles seems to me safer than 8.

Re:Is it far enough away ? (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 7 months ago | (#46794081)

Would it not be simpler to consider both facility's as one as far as DR planning goes? Assuming they do not do anything that requires sync replicated SAN's (distance limited due to max latency) you want a DR facility in another time zone.and or growing zone.

Re:Is it far enough away ? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46794927)

Time zone I understand. Growing zone is a little harder.

So it's really a server farm?

Re:Is it far enough away ? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 7 months ago | (#46795427)

Lat and/or longitudinal difference. So a DC in NYC might have a DR site in FL but the preference would be LA all other things being equal.

Re:Is it far enough away ? (1)

acoustix (123925) | about 7 months ago | (#46794167)

For starters: Iowa is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley.

Iowa isn't in the original tornado alley and is on the border of the new tornado alley. Iowa has never been "smack in the middle" of it.

Re:Is it far enough away ? (1)

flopsquad (3518045) | about 7 months ago | (#46798203)

The project Alluvion site is approximately 8 miles east from the current Microsoft data center in West Des Moines

8 miles is not far. It is not too hard to envisage a disaster that could affect both sites at once.

This is an excellent point. I recommend they move the second site to Google, Kansas.

Re:Is it far enough away ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46804279)

8 miles isn't far enough for DR purposes, but we are definitely NOT smack in the middle of tornado alley.
Since you made that your first and most important point, it's a bit of a fail.

The jobs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46793983)

And since this is microsoft, they will hire 4 local people and outsource all the rest of the work out of the US.

Why bother with a cogent post... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794021)

...when I can post something insulting about Microsoft, Iowa, and the US all in one fell swoop?

Re:Why bother with a cogent post... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794057)

Because no business that chooses Windows is actually doing anything productive. The majority of players in capitalism are just involved in a circle-jerk.

great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794073)

Great! It will designed by european, built by mexican, and manned by indian. At least you get to collect tax! Oh wait..

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794087)

If you build it, they will code

Another 'me too' move by MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794297)

What a surprise.

Microsoft is dead. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794355)

Microsoft is dead. Who cares.

Could Detroit be next? (1)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#46794577)

Lots of cheap land, central location between Chicago and NYC, and cold weather in the winter to help with cooling. And when I think about, the original infrastructure was built out to support heavy industry. There is probably excess power transmission capacity.

Re:Could Detroit be next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46796457)

Ohio, not Iowa, is between Chicago and New York. Iowa is west of both Chicago and New York.

Windows 9/10 Preparations? (1)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about 7 months ago | (#46794623)

Might this have anything to do with those supposed leaks about Windows 9 and 10 being increasingly cloud-based?

farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46794679)

Lots of farms in Iowa... haha.. sorry, didn't mean to stereotype the the Hawkeye State. Its a joke.. really.

I like to imagine... (1)

BigDXLT (1218924) | about 7 months ago | (#46794763)

"Me, I'm a third generation server farmer. My pappy's pappy started this farm way back in 2014. Then my pappy took over, and now here I am today." As the old sys admin slowly rocked in his office chair, a single orange strand of wire from a cat 5 cable hanging out of his mouth. "Ol'rack 314b has a bad sector, son, today I need you to go take it down. She's been a good server, but it's time you showed me you can take over this farm one day too..."

Gates is running for president? (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 7 months ago | (#46795023)

Who are they backing for president?

Obligatory (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | about 7 months ago | (#46795047)

Does it run Linux?

After trying to hire for a data center... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46795519)

in Nebraska, that is next to Iowa, they're going to fail. We didn't get a single applicant that was smart enough to be able to install and setup servers. Those areas are filled with xtians who are anti-technology so they simply cannot do even basic technical tasks. Every task we had a local person do from drilling holes in the slab to mount racks to running power conduit had to be redone by an intelligent person we brought in from the Bay Area. The people in that part of the country simply aren't capable of doing the work.

Will... (1)

binaryhat (2494814) | about 7 months ago | (#46797299)

the servers run Linux? If not I'm not interested.

Re:Will... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 7 months ago | (#46797781)

Probably Windows Server 2012, w/ IIS and HyperV
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