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The Soaring Costs for New Data Center Projects

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

164

miller60 writes "The cost of building a quality data center is rising fast. Equinix will spend $165 million to convert a Chicago warehouse into a data center, while Microsoft is said to be shopping Texas sites for a massive server farm that could cost as much as $600 million. Just three years ago, data centers were dirt cheap due to a glut of facilities built by failed dot-coms and telcos like Exodus, AboveNet and WorldCom. Those sites have been bought up amid surging demand for data storage, so companies needing data center space must either build from scratch or convert existing industrial sites. Microsoft and Yahoo are each building centers in central Washington, where cheap hydro electric power from nearby dams helps them save on energy costs, which can be enormous for high-density server installations."

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Detroit? (5, Informative)

haydenth (588730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15491963)

Some of these firms should really start looking at warehouses in Detroit. If you can secure the facility properly, you can get TONS of old warehouses and factory floors for very little. Look at the conversion that Wayne State did with techtown [techtownwsu.org] - they converted an old abandoned warehouse into usable high-tech space (and the real estate was virtually free).

Re:Detroit? (1)

f0dder (570496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15491988)

there's prolly a good reason why people have abandoned the city.

I hear realestate in Katrina is also cheap, should
build a data center there. Like close to the water.

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492020)

Where is this Katrina?

Do you also think Africa is a country?

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492057)

Heh. I wonder.

Re:Detroit? (1)

haydenth (588730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492195)

You've obviously never visited Detroit.

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493211)

I hear realestate in Katrina is also cheap

Yeah, I buried my boner there practically for free.

Re:Detroit? (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492011)

What about taxes and power concerns? You pay for real estate once, buy you pay taxes every year and if you loose power, you will loose paying customers.

One both counts, Texas wins hands down. We have low taxes and our state power grid can be disconnected from all others. There was a problem a few years back where a power issue in the mid west took out huge parts of the North East.

Then you have to think about other things like being able to fill and staff the facility.

Again, Texas wins out. We're the next Silicon Valley, I know because I lived in Mountain View and moved to Austin to avoid the BS in California.

- Eric

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492092)

Equifax was going to migrate to Texas until they discovered that Texans couldn't spell 'lose'. Microsoft, on the other hand, preferred it that way.

Re:Detroit? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492166)

Ok, you moved from Mountain View to Texas. I agree it's an improvement (I moved from Mountain View to Melbourne and I spent a year in Houston one week, too) but ... it's winter, right? You haven't actually gone outside in the summer yet? I recommend you install redundant air conditioning systems in your car, with battery backup.

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492286)

I lived in Houston for five years.

I live in Minnesota now.

This is no coincidence.

Re:Detroit? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493093)

I lived in Houston for five years.

I live in Minnesota now.

This is no coincidence.


I live in New Orleans (same latitude as Houston) and much prefer it to having to shovel snow 4 months a year and live thru blizzards every year.

Re:Detroit? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492369)

if you loose power, you will loose paying customers

loose - the opposite of tight
lose - to not win

Example: I guess Texas lose in the spelling stakes eh Bubba?

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493152)

no, they've lost (and English isn't even my native language)

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493500)

go see up the past version of "loose" in the dictionary, wiseass.

you can see from a mile that english is not first language, by a longshot,
otherwise you would have caught the joke :)

Re:Detroit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493553)

"you can see from a mile that english is not your first language, by a long(space)shot, otherwise you would have caught the joke :)"

Ah, well.. even if it's not my first language, and might not catch a joke one in a while.. I do see other things ;p

Re:Detroit? (3, Insightful)

Bishop (4500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492674)

Power grid reliability is not a big concern. Data centres of this size will have backup generators. Taxes aren't going to be an issue either. These data centres will be given sweatheart tax deals, no interest loans, and other incentives. The states and counties will give out these incentives because the data centres will bring so called "high tech jobs."

Re:Detroit? (4, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492082)

Some of these firms should really start looking at warehouses in Detroit.

Do bullet proof vests come included?

Re:Detroit? (1)

biobogonics (513416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492193)

Some of these firms should really start looking at warehouses in Detroit.

Do bullet proof vests come included?


There is actually something worse than the rampant crime, corruption, drugs, traffic and exorbitant parking in Detroit - having to pay city income tax.

Re:Detroit? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493464)

Wow... he's not kidding [detroit.mi.us] . It sounds like it's time for you all to migrate north as political refugeees... we still have democracy in Canada.

Re:Detroit?dftdfyt (-1, Offtopic)

iecompat (948526) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493096)

fdjgdfhjdfgdfhgdfhdfhgdf fdh df hd fh df h dfhg

I don't buy it. (0, Troll)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15491979)

I have to call bull****.

Sure, you can spend whatever you want, but should you?

If you are playing in this space it seems profitable. FTA "generate approximately $80 million in annual revenue, and cash gross profit margins of approximately 70 percent."

So, spend 2 years of revenue in construction, reap great profits over it's 10-12 year minimum life.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492140)

Datacenter is a long term investment, old DC can still generate pretty good income even when it's outdated by today's standard.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492249)

This is the software/IT industry, they're not used to waiting 5 years to start earning a 10-20% return on investment that the rest of the working universe has to put up with.

KFG

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Funny)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492944)

Microsoft is willing to spend years and years waiting for the Xbox to become properly profitable, so it wouldn't be particularly surprising.

Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-metro (5, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492018)

In the finest of Slashdot traditions I'm speaking from barely informed ignorance here:

It seems to me you can control your costs by buying existing space, like a mothballed factory, in an economically depressed area. Like, say, anywhere in the rust belt. You've got a bit of flexibility in siting as long as you can get Internet pipes, and you don't necessarily *have* to set up in an area known for a workforce with a high degree of tech skill (and absurd prevailing wages along with almost certainly having higher cost of everything because its metropolitan).

Our technology incubator in Japan is in a park with a few major data centers and is located 40 miles from the middle of nowhere. The US analog would be siting the datacenter in a cornfield in central Illinois. We have (comparitively) cheap power rates, a cost of living (and prevailing salaries) a fraction of that in Nagoya, and the rent (heavily subsidized by local government, which may not be an option for folks discussed in these articles) is a song.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492068)

Actually, there are two huge datacenters in the middle of the corn in Central Illinois... State Farm's and Caterpillar's...

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

Compuser (14899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492107)

Not to mention the whole NCSA thing. Not quite a datacenter, unless you are a researcher in which
case it very much is.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492253)

A lot more than 2 -- There's a shitload of companies with op centers in the Chicago suburbs (probably was corn fields when they built the places).

Build it somewhere cold (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492108)

Why not build your datacenter in alaska where it's colder year round. I'd have thought building the thing in Texas would just help pump up your A/C costs.

Re:Build it somewhere cold (2, Informative)

JonahDark1 (63703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492163)

Believe it or not, the speed of light is too slow. Latency would be an issue if the data center was in Alaska.

Re:Build it somewhere cold (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492188)

Believe it or not, the speed of light is too slow. Latency would be an issue if the data center was in Alaska.

Horse hocky. The operative measure is the speed of the dark. Dark fibre, fewer hops, acceptable response.

Re:Build it somewhere cold (2, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493147)

Why not build your datacenter in alaska where it's colder year round.

Our datacenter in just up the Hudson from NYC and was built back in the 1960s, When IBM Ruled The Datacenter, and disk farms generated a lot of heat and the ambient temperature needed to be roughly 70F.

So, the DC is in the 2nd basement, and (had) vents to the outside, so cold winter air could be shunted into the room.

Became obsolete, though, in the mid 1990s when the huge 3390 farm was replaced by a couple of EMC cabinets and the bipolar mainframe was replaced with a CMOS s/390.

I'd have thought building the thing in Texas would just help pump up your A/C costs.

Depends on how well it's insulated. When the building is gutted, that's the perfect time to spray on insulation.

Re:Build it somewhere cold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493388)

There are other issues, though the cold helps. I should know, I work at a data center in Alaska.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (5, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492122)

The cost of turning that into a safe datacenter environment would be enormous. When was the last time you heard of a abandoned factory being built to hold a temperature controlled environment? The costs that go into making a real datacenter are significant, and building the place from scratch for that purpose can be cheaper. Building a datacenter right downtown is a stupid idea, but that doesn't make building it out in the boonies a good one.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492287)

I wonder if anyone has run feasibility studies on building datacenters in abandoned underground facilities? They're naturally temperature-controlled: anything more than a few feet down is going to hover around 40-50F, really the only problem you'd have is the possible humidity. But last time I saw specs on servers, they're fine to about 80% RH [hp.com] . You'd obviously have to be very careful about possible flooding issues if it was in an area prone to that, but overall I think you could make use of a lot of old industrial space, reduce or eliminate most cooling costs, and rent out aboveground space to other uses to reduce overhead.

It doesn't even have to be deep, salt-mine type underground: any old building with a sub-basement, or built partially into a hill with a basement, would do fine. There are quite a few old buildings in cities that were built with storage tunnels and cellars that would be suitable, built before the 'truss-and-curtainwall on concrete slab' style of industrial building had become the norm.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (3, Funny)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492557)

I wonder if anyone has run feasibility studies on building datacenters in abandoned underground facilities?
enough already with the elaborate plans to turn your room in your parents' basement into a fortune 500 company!

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492759)

They're naturally temperature-controlled: anything more than a few feet down is going to hover around 40-50F

Yeah, sure, until you saturate the heat capacity of the ground around you. Mind, the ground conducts slowly, and datacenters have a lot higher power density than your basement.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

Kickersny.com (913902) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492530)

When was the last time you heard of a abandoned factory being built to hold a temperature controlled environment?
I don't know about you, but I've never head of an abandoned factory being built...

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492818)

I don't know about you, but I've never head of an abandoned factory being built
Well it didn't evolve out of more primitive buildings around it.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492722)

Actually, most factories are already temperature controlled environments. Industrial processes like steel smelting, injection molding, etc... generate quite a bit more heat than even the largest datacenters.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493517)

The cost of turning that into a safe datacenter environment would be enormous. When was the last time you heard of a abandoned factory being built to hold a temperature controlled environment?

oh for crying out loud. It amazes me the lack of thought outside the box people have.

Options...

1 - spend very little and build seperate enclosures inside the wearhouse that hold the libert units for environment control and the servers in data-center pods.

2 - go uber cheap. Buy a bunch of camper trailers that are gutted and put the servers inside those parked in the wearhouse. works great and I have seen several startups that did exactly that. this also works very well for rental property as you can pull up stakes and move your datacenter within minutes of getting your data pipes into another cheap wearhouse.

the best option and the one usually does in these types of datacenters is the first. you can hire simple general contractors to build interior walls with roofs that are only 10 feet high and insulate the crap out of them to make the perfect datacenter within 5 - 30 days.

It's the mentially retarted CEO's and Venture Capilolists that think you need to spend 80 million dollars on a flashy facility with lots of glass and artwork and special "touches" that only impress clients that will never go there or see it.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

unclejose (944206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492145)

Ignorance indeed. The point is simple. Above all else, you want to minimize the hazards to your datacenter. Detroit has been known to have icestorms and blizzards. Heartland corn fields have tornados. Add hurricanes on the southeast coast and a whole range of natural disasters on the west coast and it is apparent why you make your choices. The last thing any major internet company wants is for the roof of the data center to collapse under the weight of an ice storm or be torn off by a twister because in exchange for a few million saved you lose your entire capital investment not to mention truck loads of data and capacity.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

Opusnbill7 (442087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492176)

Yeah, but if you know what the risks are, you can plan for them. It may be worth reinforcing the building to handle a direct tornado strike (reinforced concrete, anyone?) if the power and personnel costs are low enough. California has earthquakes, but there are still quite a few data centers (and high tech companies) located there. They simply take the risks into account in the financial equation and either accept the cost of that risk or take precautions to protect against it.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492207)

Forget the warehouse walls and ceiling. Pick a large one and build your data centre as a complete building within it. Use the slab only, and post furtive-looking plain clothes guards at the outside warehouse walls to help blend in to the surroundings (STCA).

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492230)

Wow... Blizzards and icestorms... I wonder where Russians and Canadians put their datacenters.

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (4, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492405)

Like I said: I live in Japan. We're the earthquake capital of the world, and yet somehow we manage to have buildings stay standing. Many of them also contain computers or millions of dollars of capital, strange as this may be. I trust that the folks living in Iowa and Detroit have figured out some combination of construction techniques, building codes, and insurance schemes which enables their cities to be something other than windswept wastelands. I mean, how long has the auto industry put billion-dollar factories in Detroit? And how many times have you seen GM say "Aww shootskie, we forgot about the ice storms and now three production lines are buried under 400 tons of collapsed roof and snow?"

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493391)

Just out of curioisity, how exactly did you get started in Japan?

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (4, Informative)

EzRider (598401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492521)

Actually your not that far off the mark. Building a data center basically comes down to five key components:

1. Getting lots of cheap power. Being next to a power plant with tons of extra capacity doesn't hurt. The farther you are, the more loss, and that means more $$$ per MW.
2. Internet pipes. Having X thousand servers up and running with nowhere to push the bits is pretty useless. I'm not sure if most people understand how hard it is to say get 40-60 Gig of bandwidth to the middle of nowhere. It takes months, if not years, to put in the right infrastructure. If you think I'm lying, call up say, Sprint and ask them for a 10GE pipe to the middle of Iowa but be careful, thier laughter might hurt your ears.
3. Cheap labor. Gotta have bodies to run everything from cooling to electric to security. You could do it with Robots, but after a while, as with all robots, they want to kill.
4. Favorable tax status. When you install hundreds of millions of dollars of hardware in one place, the amount of taxes you pay on it becomes non trivial. Many companies work out sweet tax deals with the local governments for just this reason. Basically the conversation goes, "You give us cheap tax treatment, we give you 500 jobs."
5. And of course, cheap land. Pretty self explanitory.

Because of small number of sites that are favorable in all these ways, I'm not surprised that costs have increased. But like all things this will change. Places with the last 3 bullets will build out power and connectivity and the datacenters will pop up all over the midwest. Either there or we'll outsource them to India.

ez

Re:Seems to me they should target Rust Belt/non-me (4, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492545)

Other posts have dealt with what you might need to get a datacenter running in one of these places. A good analogy, I think, is if you were to go and build a power station. A power station needs the following things-

1. Access to a large body of water cuts costs immensely when dumping the heat from the beast. Fresh is preferred but not required.
2. Access to high voltage lines, or a short distance to one that can be tied into. 34.5 and 105kV lines are expensive to build and maintain on a long-term basis.
3. Access to fuel. Ideally rail, ship, or pipeline, because power plants burn massive quantities of fuel. Trucks do not cut it unless the distance is extremely short.

I recently worked at a power station that was originally built with none of these things. The only people to ever make any money from this white elefant were the contracters that built it.

Build your datacenter near a large body of water (or maybe in Juneau?). Build it near a power station (or build your own steam plant?). Build near some big strands of fiber. Being in the middle of nowhere for the sake of being in the middle of nowhere only profits the contractors.

esp banks... (4, Informative)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492019)

I work for a large financial institution.
We have a LOT of data...and not just account data.
Back in the 80's, the standard was two mainframes in the same room, back-up
tapes kept on and off site, and a contract with a company to supply a DR computer
if it was ever needed.

Cut to 2006...
We have dual fully redundant data centers, each with many mainframes, and pipes
big enough to drive a dump truck full of bits between the two.
A third one is about to open and a fourth is under construction.

Most of this is for SOX.


Re:esp banks... (2, Funny)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492033)

Most of this is for SOX.
White Sox or Red Sox?

Re:esp banks... (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492152)

SOX is shorthand for Sarbanes-Oxley Act [wikipedia.org] .

Re:esp banks... (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492263)

Thanks for the explanation. My only context for "Sox" (with that spelling) is the baseball teams from Boston and Chicago. The original post makes much more sense now!

Re:esp banks... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492222)

I work for a smallish company that produces a searchable archiving product, in part used to help deal with SOX requirements. We expect that the market for "information life cycle management" will be one if not the highest growth software market, starting from a couple of years ago maybe, to many years in the future.

wow, my sister is lucky... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492021)

for getting a job in the public sector in central washington...

Hopefully they don't get tax abatements as well and don't pay for the privilege of setting up shop there.

Why not acquire Savvis ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492037)

Sure seems like Savvis would be a likely pickup for Microsoft of Google.

They have lots of data centers, are just about profitable off income, its like
FREE BEEF, you buy them and the fascilities are paying for themselves.

  http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=svvsd [yahoo.com]

Cheaper than building your own, and they come with good people, a solid
backbone, and locations that are running NOW.

Buy what the hell do I know, I am a software geek...

In QUINCY? (3, Interesting)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492059)

I grew up in Moses Lake, WA, which is about 30 miles SE of Quincy. This should be going into Moses Lake, but it isn't. We have goddamn fiber optics laid all over that town (and the county, exempting Quincy due to some sort of contract the PUD had with Verizon, I believe) going right up to people's houses. I enjoyed a 100Mbps symmetric connection for a while...then my bandwidth got capped. In fact, the PUD is charging the service providers so damn much for bandwidth, some have to cap it at 1Mbps down/512Kbps up. That's slower than fucking DSL and Cable! The local PUD is sitting on a fucking GOLDMINE and they're not doing a goddamned thing about it! They could have easily wooed MS and Yahoo into Moses Lake to build their datafarms there using the PUD's fiber network through the local providers (the PUD can't sell service, so they sell the use of the network to ISPs) and made things better in the town. But they're not doing shit. They haven't been doing much to promote, pitch, or package it for big guys to come in and build a major server farm out here. It pisses me off to no end to see those fuckers doing so little to help that town, and it needs all the help it can get. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Re:In QUINCY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492561)

WHat? I thought this was a done deal that MSFT was building it out in Quincy! What happened?

Re:In QUINCY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492638)

As one of the ISPs that deal with the PUD (and also why I choose to be anonymous), I have some insight into some of the issues with this thing. It seems that an employee of the PUD (not an engineer) told Microsoft that they could not get sufficient bandwidth on dark fiber in the industrial area at the airport in Moses Lake; this without involving the network engineers at the PUD, who would have set the record straight. Thus the search for a site changed to Quincy, where there was a bit of dark fiber (owned by the PUD in part) running by. NOAnet (a creature of the Washington PUDs) is licensing this 13 mile run of dark fiber from the Grant County PUD for 48,000 dollars per year, and reselling it to Microsoft through 180 networks (I believe) for some 6 million dollars per year. This means that money that should have gone to the PUD for further development of our revolutionary fiber to the home system gets funneled away. Part of the reason is that tax free bonds were used (dishonestly) to build the network, and making a profit could bring down the house. Stupid management decisions. For more VERY interesting details, check out my favorite paranoid conspiracy theorist's website, http://www.sliderule.net/ [sliderule.net] ; reads like a Clancy novel. Additionally, since the ratepayers of Grant County are subsidizing this thing, it means that we get screwed coming and going, because most likely the workers will choose to live in Wenatchee - in another county but much closer than larger towns in Grant county and with places to eat and shop (and live).

Microsoft in Texas? (-1, Flamebait)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492065)

I can't believe that a MegaCorporation based out of Washington State would find new roots in good-ole'-boy Texas. I wonder if it has anything to do with $Big Oil [wikipedia.org] , $President $Bush [wikipedia.org] , $Corrupt Government [oldamericancentury.org] , and consumer/constituent abuse?

Nah, I'm probably just being a consipiracy nerd. It's clearly just sheer coincidence.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

vbwilliams (968304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492081)

It's probably due to the fact that pretty much all of Texas is wired for oodles of bandwidth, there is very little inclement weather there, tech workers are a dime a dozen, and there are less taxes in Texas, which would attract all those tech workers who are a dime a dozen. Likewise, several large players in the telecom and high-end server market have major presence there. It's not hard at all to figure out why they are scoping Texas. It's cheaper.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492114)

For now. Over time, as more investment pours in, everything gets more expensive, profits go up, taxes go up, salaries go up. But it does help ease the pain of initial development, I guess.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492536)

Texas is actually the center of the universe for dedicated servers. You've got The Planet, EV1Servers, Rackspace, VeriCenter, Collocation Solutions, SoftLayer, Layered Technologies ... the list goes on. It's pretty amazing.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492136)

You liberal nutjobs never give up do you? Gates is a democrat not a republican, what makes you think Bush would do anything for him? Continue with your loony conspiracy theories though, maybe they'll keep you warm at night.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492202)

Nah, I'm probably just being a consipiracy nerd. It's clearly just sheer coincidence.

No, you are being a conspiracy twit. And it's not like Texas is just some run-down oil and cattle bubba hub. Ever heard of Texas Instruments? Or maybe Dell? Or big hosting operations like Data Return? The tax situation there is favorable, they don't have the incredibly high cost of living that you find in the Seattle, or Boston, or San Fransisco, or Northern Virginia areas... there's plenty of reasons to run a business unit in Texas. And I can think of a lot of reasons why places like WA or OR are overtly hostile to employers and short on places to house employees at anything like a livable rate. The question isn't "why not in WA?" - the question is, "why would they choose to put new operations in an unexpandable, crazy-cost-of-living area like the Pacific NW?"

I say this while living in the DC area - another spot that you'd have to be insane to build a new datacenter in. I've got all of my stuff parked at an Exodus->Cable & Wireless->SAVVIS facility, and there's simply no more room for more of the same.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

bblboy54 (926265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492706)

This is all so true. I work in the Ashburn, VA Equinix facility and any company I associate with is unable to expand location. Equinix is planning new building after new building but they cant keep up - and this requires time and money.... and unfortunately, this is something Equinix does not have. The cost of living here in Northern VA is outrageous. .... On the flip side tho .... There is no better place to be at when looking at network performance. If every major tier 1 and tier 2 provider is in the northern VA area (and most likely inside Equinix at some point), you eliminate your customer's data backtracking. When I lived in Pittsburgh, many traceroutes that I performed routed to Ashburn/Dulles/DC and then back to somewhere in PA. Instead of placing your infrastructure in PA so that some PA data has to travel twice as long, you put it where everyone meets. If your just a small hosting company, this is not a huge issue but if your an enterprise fortune 1000 company this is a huge issue in your performance and your network costs. Granted, if Texas starts building up more and more, then every backbone provider would flock to that area -- but then again, the entire Northern VA area used to be nothing more than farms as little as 10 years ago. With that in mind, how long would Texas stay the way it is now?

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493293)

A long time. Texas goes on and on and on and on and [...] on and on and on. And on a bit more. It's further from El Paso to Texarkana than it is from El Paso to Los Angeles. The population density is very low in Texas - a population of 20 million, and half of that is in Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth areas (5 million in the greater Houston area, and the DFW area also having 5 million) leaving most of the rest of the state (which is the size of France) pretty much empty.

The growth seems to be happening in the big metropolitan areas - but Houston has so much space to expand into, the expansion is basically going on unchecked because there's little to stop it. This is not necessarily a good thing. I used to live in Houston (and didn't mind it too much) - but I don't think I'd want to live there now with all the characterless sprawl of McMansions and strip malls that's going on now.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492755)

The question isn't "why not in WA?" - the question is, "why would they choose to put new operations in an unexpandable, crazy-cost-of-living area like the Pacific NW?"

Cheap power and land. Clearly you haven't been to central WA. It's empty.

Re:Microsoft in Texas? (1)

Davus (905996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492808)

Same is true of The Planet [theplanet.com] , a datacenter in Dallas.
I'm sure we all know more than one site hosted there!

I don't buy it (2, Interesting)

appleLaserWriter (91994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492066)

The Westin Building [officespace.com] (no not THAT office space) still has plenty of space, including the entire 5th floor!

Re:I don't buy it (3, Interesting)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492109)

Most enterprise customers don't have any interest in sharing a facility with 50 other telecom providers and hosting companies in a carrier hotel like The Westin Building. These companies want big, stand-alone data centers where they can have complete control over access and security. The other issue is that space is limited in telecom hotels like Westin. The Equinix project mentioned in TFA is 225,000 square feet, and the Microsoft requirement is for more than 400,000 square feet. Westin is a large facility, but the fifth floor isn't 200,000 square feet.

Re:I don't buy it (1)

kernel_panic (98119) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492274)

Haha, and let's not rule out the old Team F wiring closet on the 4th floor, either.

Re:I don't buy it (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492412)

The problem with the Westin and any other data in the downtown Seattle area is power. We have servers in Internap Fischer Plaza and they have 30 AMP caps on each rack. We can't get more than 15 1Us in a cabinet even though there's space for 30. You can't pay them for more because they can't get more. I have heard straight from them that they are pretty worried about power because power use is soaring and it's next to impossible to get more.

If you go just outside the Seattle area (Kent, Tukwilla), they'll be happy to give you 90 AMPs per rack for less overall cost.

So what you're saying... (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492203)

is to wait until this new tech bubble bursts and get Super-Amazing Data Roxors TM for a fraction of the price. Seriously. The future is going to have so much storage and computing power for so damn cheap, it makes me feel a little something funny inside. Is this what they call "Love"?

Re:So what you're saying... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492279)

and get Super-Amazing Data Roxors...

I have this recurring vision of people tripping over this huge data cable and dislodging the little nub at the end that was the data centre.

Data storage densities may continue to improve for a bit. Until we're reading the RFC's for a new RS-nnnn spec for DTE communication via quantum entanglement and metal telepathy* though, we're going to be building data centres for bandwidth and reliable power as much as for cubic volume required to house binary digits.

Which brings up another point -- when HDD's are approaching the terabyte range, does it still make sense to use single large disks when they're inherently throttled to IDE or SATA IO rates?

*First pun I ever encountered .. Felix the Cat's defense vs. The Master Cylinder, early 50's.

Re:So what you're saying... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493195)

Which brings up another point -- when HDD's are approaching the terabyte range, does it still make sense to use single large disks when they're inherently throttled to IDE or SATA IO rates?

Those huge-density 7200RPM drives are best for near-line and "online archival" storage. Perfect for SOX data retention.

For speed, you still want 10K 147GB SCSI drives.

Humble Suggestion. (2, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492322)

As we know worker moral is important, and considering the traditional living arrangements of your standard computer geek, it stands to reason that they should build their data center in the most awesome basement [triggur.org] ever built! Hey, one can dream can't he? To the batcave!

Who gives a shit? (-1, Troll)

Ranger (1783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492471)

I'm not likely to build a data center any time soon. I'll bet 99% of the other slashdotters won't build one either.

So much for.. (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492554)

my plan on building a data center as a business.

Costs haven't changed that dramatically (5, Informative)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492659)

It's incredibly uninformed to talk of costs in terms of total dollars!

The old metric was in $/sq. ft., and today it is better to talk in terms of $/kW given higher densities.

For a wide range of data centers, the building shell cost is around $100-250/sq. ft. An enterprise (EIA 692 "Tier 4") data center costs about $22k/kW, plus the high end of the building shell cost. A "Tier 3" data center is closer to $20k/kW and $200/sq. ft. When you drop to Tier 2, you cut the cost in about half, at $12k/kW.

The only costs that have risen dramatically recently are generators and copper, which have a one-year lead time for big engines typically used (1.5-2+ MW) for the generetor, and about triple the cost three years ago for copper-- maybe a 15% premium maximum for a large data center.

Costs get much more complicated when you talk about provisions for future expansion and site constraints.

As for energy costs, yes, cheaper electricity is good for a data center. A 2MW data center will save about $350k/year if they can drop their electricity cost by $0.01 per kWh!

Re:Costs haven't changed that dramatically (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493495)

You must be building somewhere very near an expensive megalopolis if you're putting up a shell for over $100/SF. Even with services, large industrial buildings can easily be built for under $80 including the land and utilities, and I suspect you could bring a facility in under $50 a square foot in the right places (and that includes the "right places" with big internet pipes). Makes me want to go build a datacenter in Christiansburg, Virginia. Lots of land, Virginia Tech right next door (tech-savvy bodies and fat pipes), cheap electricity (AEP is under 8c/kWh, I think). You can get a shell on a 20,000SF building erected for about $25-30/SF, the land acquisition should be in the neighborhood of $1000-2000 per acre (lots of expansion possibilities), and the local government will probably fall all over themselves to get eh services you need to your site.

You know...just ignore this post. It would never work over there - way to expensive, regulatory hurdles, lousy access. Not worth even looking into, really. Sorry for wasting your time.

Now, where did I put that business plan boilerplate...

Equinix is pricey but good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492685)

People pick Chicago because virtually all the countries long haul fiber runs right through the loop. Equinix ORD is located on the south edge of the loop, and is in a great position to get fiber from every major carrier. I work for a company that rents a huge amount of space from Equinix (the most behind IBM, who rents ~50% of the ORD space), and we are starving for more Datacenter space and power. With the new DC they are building, we hope to acquire atleast 500 or more cabinets for our future expansion...

duh! (1)

marafa (745042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492787)

outsource the data warehousing to another country

here in egypt, electricity, water and petrol is cheap in comparison to other countries. datalinks are (according to my isp) via submarine cables, satellite and redundant submarine cables to to american and europe.
AND there are free tax zones to build in too.
only problem? the isps here have not interconnected themselves to each other meaning to go from isp A to isp B the packet must travel to europe/american first - and yes i dont know the technical term for this agreement.

Re:duh! (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493028)

Peering. Except that if you are dealing with US companies, clients and users, then the costs of the loop to and from Egypt will kill you.

You want at least three or four major bandwidth providers coming into the country.

Bangalore was popular because of low land prices, and its location in the middle of the three main landing station for fibre into India (Mumbai ~ 900 km, Kochi ~ 900 km and Chennai ~ 400 km).

Re:duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493484)

ISPs in Egypt do interconnection (peering) at Cairo Regional Internet Exchange (CRIX), not all traffic goes via transit-links.

Because they can (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492833)

Microsoft is not the measure of things, especially not of spending.

That Microsoft spends $600 million on a datacenter is not because they need to,
it is because they can.

NSA Listening Center (1)

amdei (980813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492899)

I'm sure that the recent expansion of the Yakima NSA listening center just down the street is only a coincidence.

Time to Build Datacenters (3, Insightful)

bazily (838434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492947)

I love this cycle, where internet business heats up and companies start building datacenters to keep up with perceived demand. It happened the last time around, with companies like Exodus, Cable & Wireless, and all the others who were overbuilt when demand didn't materialize.

Anything over 50k sf of datacenter is more than enough, assuming you've got cheap and available power, and close to a couple fiber loops. The big reason that these new datacenters are so large (200k-400k sf, compared that to 1 floor of a high rise office at 30k sf) is because they aren't allowed to have the power density (elec co can only supply so much at reasonable price). With servers more power hungry, yet smaller, there's a need for more power/cooling, but less space.

Building new isn't all that different in cost of retrofitting an old warehouse. I'd just buy one of the small operators out there and be up and running for a % of the cost. The problem there is that there's a company called Digital Realty Trust buying all a lot of the datacenters in the market, and they've got a ton of cash.

So maybe the rust belt should be fighting for these developments, but they can't overcome 1 issue - companies want to be close to their datacenter. It goes against the security mission, the cost justification, and just about everything else; but these always get built right next to corporate HQ or in some metropolitan area. Doh!

Equinix is expensive (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15492984)

Equinix is insanely expensive. I considered moving my company's colocation into Equinix's Ashburn VA facility but I ended up choosing more space at two others for half the price. Equinix has a beautiful place but I can't for the life of me figure out who actually needs biometric locks on the cages. That stuff isn't cheap.

Re:Equinix is expensive (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493279)

They have those locks so they can impress the clueless who will then pay their exhorbitant rates.

building out datacentres cost soaring (4, Interesting)

Exter-C (310390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493006)

The cost of building out datacentres has been soaring for several reasons, the first real issue is being able to provide enough power for todays power hungry servers to run at any sort of density required to actually churn the data. We see datacentres only able to offer very low amount of power per square meter in the UK, which is very low and can often only provide you with upto 4 quad processor XEON servers per rack. When you can only have that density the cost is much greater. The other aspect is how do you cool it, the traditional airconditioning raised floor method really does not work as its almost impossible to actually cool where you have to cool and there will always be hot spots even if your doing warm row cold row designs etc. Its important to seal the cool air in and funnel it to where its needed. APC have recently been working heavily in this area and claim to be able to cool MASSIVE amounts of density. The other issue is the management aspects of these datacentres. In the past you could design a datacentre to be good for 5-10 years now its hard to design something which will be good for the same length of time becaues the power requirements, cooling and power grid is something that is often over utilised (as per in the UK datacentre market).

The price of AJAX (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493021)

This is the price of AJAX. If users are constantly going back to the server in the middle of a page, you need more server capacity. Really, the AJAX approach is a hideously inefficient way to update a form. We're now seeing the price of that.

Re:The price of AJAX (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493283)

This must be the dumbest crap ever reaching "3 interesting" I have ever seen. You seriously think that companies have to get really huge new data-centers because users are accessing AJAX-pages? Secondly, AJAX doesn't in itself have to increase load on the servers, mostly because there's less redundancy going on (read: needless and utterly useless refreshing of too much data which isn't in need of refreshing).

So, what's your problem? You just like to use the words that the other kids are using?

Re:The price of AJAX (2, Insightful)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493311)

Umm, AJAX is *more* efficient than a static page. It needs less server capacity because it doesn't require the entire form to be reloaded constantly.

Re:The price of AJAX (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493456)

It needs less server capacity because it doesn't require the entire form to be reloaded constantly.

Depends on what you mean by "capacity". If you're talking about bandwidth capacity, then yes, AJAX can potentially reduce bandwidth. If you're talking about server processing capacity, then the answer is no, AJAX will not reduce server processing loads. AJAX requires more server software, processing, memory and time than simply having the server rejurgitate a static, or quasi static webpage over and over.

Re:The price of AJAX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15493465)

My guess is MS is building this for something like Xbox Live server farm and what other ebil plans they have for the future (eg. interweb based apps, contents servers etc).

The prices aren't really soaring. (1)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493081)

it just seems that way after the big Pentium D migration.

ultra-low consumption dedicaced servers (2, Interesting)

ersatx (742762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493171)

French Iliad SAS (the parent company of the ISP Free) just started a cute server renting business in a former Exodus datacenter.
The point of interest is that servers are fanless, built on low-consumption VIA processors, and consume about 20W/server.
That should make the cost of operation much lower than traditional hosting...
See details on http://www.dedibox.fr/index.php?rub=offre [dedibox.fr] (in french)
Pictures of the datacenter: http://www.dedibox.fr/index.php?rub=datacenter [dedibox.fr]

A case for solar power (0)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493231)

With electricity costs being a dominant factor in the selection of a data center's location, building one in a sunny desert begins to make sense. You use solar power for the servers; for round-the-clock operation you build centers around the world. Unlike electricity, bits are easy to transport from the place where they are produced to the place where they are consumed.

Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective [spinellis.gr]

Like everything else, do it in India (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15493356)

Everything is cheaper in India. Then build out sufficient bandwidth to connect everything here to there. See it's not just about pesky American wages - it's also about pesky American real estate prices, utility costs and whatnot.
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