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Microsoft Plans $500 Million Chicago Data Center

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-believe-it-is-on-now dept.

175

miller60 writes "Microsoft is planning a huge new data center in the Chicago area, as it continues to expand its Internet infrastructure in an effort to keep pace with Google in web-based services. The new facility in Northlake, Ill. may cost more than $500 million and is expected to span 440,000 square feet. Microsoft opened a 470,000 square foot data center in Quincy, Washington earlier this year, and is building a similar facility in San Antonio. Microsoft has also submitted plans for a $500 million data center campus in Dublin, Ireland."

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Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (5, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253565)

Please describe how many LOC (libraries of congress) the data center will store. Also give the area in football fields and heights in statue of liberty and the energy consumption in number of homes that could be lit up.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253583)

King's asswidths is now the preferred measurement.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253719)

FTA (emphasis mine):

Microsoft has been keenly focused on power costs in its data center site location efforts. While 5 cents per kilowatt hour is in the midrange of average state-by-state power costs, it is lower than rates found near many major data center markets such as California (9 cents per kWh) or northern New Jersey (11 center per kWh). Microsoft's data center in Quincy runs on hyrdro power that costs less than 2 centers per kilowatt hour
I don't know how many homes can be lit up by the planned power consumption, but their facility in Quincy WA has energy that costa six licks per kilowatt hour (if you don't recall, it takes three licks to get to a center. Since the cost of the IL facility is 250% that of the WA facility, we can calculate that the cost in the IL facility will be 7.5 licks per kWh.

Furthermore, we know that 5 good licks is an ol'-fashioned ass-whupping, so the power cost will be 1.5 ass-whuppings per kWh.

Sounds like Ballmer will need to work overtime, since he is only budgeted to dispense 1 ass-whupping per hour; the smart money right now would be investing in chair manufacturers.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (2, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254017)

Also, the cost should be given in A-Rods, not dollars.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (2, Funny)

shdwtek (898320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254037)

And don't forget the measurement of how many Mp3's the data center can store.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (2, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254115)

"And don't forget the measurement of how many Mp3's the data center can store."

Yeah, but, will it run on Linux?

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (3, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254169)

No, but will it blend? Into landscape of course.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254995)

And don't forget the measurement of how many Mp3's the data center can store

How many? All of them.

Re:Bad summary. Uses incorrect units. (1)

Walles (99143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254541)

The new facility in Northlake, Ill. [...] is expected to span 440,000 square feet.

So measuring its size in body parts isn't good enough for you? Anyway, $500M will get them 1.7M Vista licenses to cover all those feet with, might get their sales statistics up a bit.

More work (4, Informative)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253575)

Great, more work for the IT folk in Chicago. The Quincy data center has created employment for 1200 persons... Not a bad thing.

In related news... (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253829)

Due to a shortage of skilled workers in Ireland, the Dublin data center will be partially staffed by leprechauns...

Re:More work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254405)

Great, more work for the IT folk in Chicago. The Quincy data center has created employment for 1200 persons... Not a bad thing.

Especially if they run Windows Server.

Re:More work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254827)

So that's how you get excellent karma!
By stating the obvious here and there...

Upcoming challenge (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253593)

The big challenge is going to be getting NetBEUI to work between all those locations.

Re:Upcoming challenge (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253653)

Idiot, NetBUI was abandoned in Windows 2000. You are 7 years behind.

Re:Upcoming challenge (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253761)

Idiot, NetBUI was abandoned in Windows 2000. You are 7 years behind.

And that's one of the reasons why the joke the OP just told is funny. Allow me to explain:

A while ago naughty Billy Gates and his henchman Steve 'Arsewipe' Ballmer wanted to take over networking using their own proprietary standard. They would use the market dominance of the evil Windows monopoly to do this. The OP reminds us, 1. what a fucking abortion NetBUI was; 2. how it failed miserably and that TCP/IP won out in the end (a networking standard that all OS' can use); and 3. how Microsoft do not always win.

This gives us all a little chuckle and a warm feeling inside. We--as GNU/Linux enthusiasts--are also reminded that it is possible to beat Microsoft from time-to-time. :)

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253815)

Ahh, reading that reminded me of something.

A successful individual compares his/her accomplishments to his/her goals.

An unsuccessful individual compares his/her accomplishments to his/her competitors.

The joke would have been funny if MS still used NetBEUI. But now, it's just old and lame.

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253885)

As is your sense of humor!

Re:Upcoming challenge (3, Funny)

aed (156746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254317)

Who said anything about Windows 2000??
It's going to be a Chicago datacenter... so you and your Windows 2000 are actually 5 years *ahead* :))

Re:Upcoming challenge (1, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253681)

The big challenge is going to be getting NetBEUI to work between all those locations.
Errrmmmm...NetBEUI isn't routeab....oh, I get it, you were making a funny.

Here. Let me try:

Another big challenge will be trying to get Bob working on their desktops!

There, did I nail it?

Re:Upcoming challenge (3, Funny)

Barny (103770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253723)

Another big challenge will be trying to get Vista working on their desktops!


There we go, fixed ^_^

Oh and am I the first to say "imagine a Beowulf cluster o".... nm, windows can't do that.

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253781)

Only because of the requirement of Beowulf clusters being based on an OSS Operating System. Ignoring that requirement, windows could handle it just fine.

Personally I don't see a technical reason for that requirement, so it strikes me as no more than a pointless marketing requirement, like you see when a recipie on the side of a box of food names ingrediants by their brand names, instead of just what type of they are. (i.e. 2 cups shredded craft cheddar, instead of 2 cups shredded cheddar, or 2 cups velvita instead of 2 cups 90%-vegitable-oil/10%-cheese-byproduct... err, I guess it's ok in the latter case).

Hmmm, if you ran everything in Cygwin... could it then be a [very slower performing] Beowulf cluster on Windows?

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254111)

Beowulf clusters are designed to maximize the performance of hardware as a distributed system. Windows consumes more resources, which makes windows a poor choice in those environments. So why waste time supporting them?

PS: You could hack together a Beowulf cluster using Cygwin it's going to be slower and well pointless, but feel free.

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254197)

No. The definition specifically states it must be an OSS Operating System, if memory serves. It's not the most solid definition (a high performance network-distributed application infrastructure run on an OSS Operating System, usually Unix)

So, even with Cygwin, a BC is out. From what I've read, the most critical part is the OSS, which means Linux, *BSD, and variants of Solaris are OK - possibly even ReactOS, but not Windows (tweakable to be low overhead) or True64 (I think that's closed source).

Re:Upcoming challenge (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254851)

"There, did I nail it?"

No, you clipped it.

Lessons learned in Chicago (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253597)

Just make sure you reinforce the concrete walls with titanium. ;-)

Re:Lessons learned in Chicago (4, Funny)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253817)

It will be protected by Itanium walls and a ChairLauncher which can launch at a rate of 40 standard Ballmers per minute.

Re:Lessons learned in Chicago (3, Funny)

sledge_hmmer (1179603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254097)

I can't wait for the next Mission Impossible movie where Tom Cruise has to dodge the chairs as he breaks in to this data centre.

Re:Lessons learned in Chicago (1)

mvfuentes (1018054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255629)

Not only walls, if not to build a nice an versatile building, for a posible future nationalization...

What I want to know is... (1, Insightful)

raidient (751898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253635)

Will it be running Linux?

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255003)

Not unless somebody sneaks in a dark night and installs Ubuntu on all servers...

But it's Chicago so a powersaw is required.

Impressive investment, but ... (5, Insightful)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253641)

... will it run Linux?

If not, Microsoft is going to be hard pressed to match Google in performance, however much money they throw at the problem.

Re:Impressive investment, but ... (5, Funny)

digThisXL (252109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253695)

hard pressed to match Google in performance, however much money they throw at the problem.
...or how many chairs, for that matter.

Re:Impressive investment, but ... (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253703)

Depends on the task.

For low-thread/process count tasks (unlikely here), I see a lot better performance out of Windows than Linux.

And I've seen better performance out of FreeBSD and VMS across the board, than out of Linux.

YMMV, but general roll-up statements like the one you made are rarely true. In the end, the ideal OS is very task dependant.

Re:Impressive investment, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253749)

Dependent, dammit! Learn how to spell!

What sort of load do you think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255315)

Millions of queries each second, answers have to be trolled out of billions of cached files. Low thread/process count to dedicate. Feasible? No.

Re:Impressive investment, but ... (1)

Rub1cnt (1159069) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254345)

Agreed...though the funny story I heard is that Google tried to implement MSSMS on thier network, but the sheer amount of traffic caused by thier automated job nearly killed thier internal network. They're still fighting "borg data" 4 years later when the scripts autostart randomly. :) **Disclaimer: The above information is all second hand through trusted sources, but is not verified by the original poster. *Hands NaCl*

Re:Impressive investment, but ... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255341)

Absolutely right. After all, we all know how hard a time Microsoft will have finding people who can wring every last bit of performance out of Windows.

Why Chicago? (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253669)

What was the reasoning behind Chicago? I'm not saying that Chicago is a bad choice but it would seem to me that there are better choices. The reason I would not put Chicago on top of the list of places is infrastructure. During the last few summer, Chicago was one of the cities that experienced rolling black outs because their electric grid couldn't handle the load. Also Chicago has hard winters which could cause disruptions during those months. And then you have the initial cost of building in Chicago. Land in Chicago, like most cities, isn't cheap. I don't know much about Google's data centers but their centers seem to have several things in common: cheap land and abundant electricity.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253701)

I would say moving it a bit further south to Indianapolis would be a much better choice. Power is cheaper and there are quite a few big pipes going through Indy.

Re:Why Chicago? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253767)

Rolling blackouts in Chicago? You need to provide a link for that one, because it's just not true. Land costs? Again you have bass-ackwards. You really have no idea what your talking about do you?

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253793)

San Antonio also seems like an odd location: blazing hot and a river that (admittedly I've only seen it in pictures) doesn't look like it generates Columbia-level hydropower.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253851)

Obviously you've never actually been to San Antonio. Yes, the summers are hot, but that's just the summer. The rest of the year enjoys perfect temperatures. If you go west of San Antonio you will notice several wind powered electricity farms up on the bluffs that I-10 courses through. The areas far west of San Antonio benefit from an abundance of continuous wind. Fortunately, it isn't so within San Antonio and the immediate area. It is quite an interesting sight, so yes, we do have electricity.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254373)

Ah, that makes sense -- thanks!!

Re:Why Chicago? (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254175)

San Antonio was no doubt chosen because it is remote, and unlikely to be exposed to a major natural disaster (flood, earthquake, hurricane, etc.). They are probably thinking of diversifying their data centers as much as possible, to guard against them becoming easy targets for physical destruction.

Re:Why Chicago? (2, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253837)

Pizza. Can't get good pizza in Indy, not like in Chicago. Rolling Blackout? Get a deep dish. Stuck in 8 feet of snow? Get some pepperoni on it, but eat quick because you won't be stuck long. Plenty of reasons to put it in Chicago.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

mitgib (1156957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254431)

Pizza. Can't get good pizza in Indy, not like in Chicago. Rolling Blackout? Get a deep dish. Stuck in 8 feet of snow? Get some pepperoni on it, but eat quick because you won't be stuck long. Plenty of reasons to put it in Chicago.
Not to mention Vienna Hot Dogs and a good ol combo sweet. That is the only things I miss, the rest of it, I don't ever care if I go back to Chicago.

Re:Why Chicago? (2, Insightful)

JamJam (785046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253867)

Then again, by population Chicago is America's 3rd largest city http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population [wikipedia.org] Being close to that many people/corporations means that the service MSFT provides should be enhanced in regards to data latency. Maybe they're focusing more on providing real-time data environments.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254923)

Low latency? The data center is half a billion dollars. Just buy OC192s to everyone's house while they are at it. I'm joking, but they practically could build a huge data pipe to most of the major regional cities for a fraction of that cost.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253873)

From what I understand of Illinois, they're also looking at licensing issues, union issues, and a whole host of odd-ball regulations up there...

Re:Why Chicago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254909)

Microsoft should consider Michigan over Illinois. Michigan has been advertising for businesses to move in with the auto industries recent layoffs/cutbacks. Surely the unions would take an interest in Microsoft and they'd also have the experience to slowly kill off Microsoft like they did with Ford, GM, Chevy, etc....

Mij

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253897)

I would think that the fact Chicago is a major metropolitan location and business center roughly in the center of the northern United States would still work to its advantage. Plenty of national and international organizations and businesses have branches in Chicago, despite the issues you set forward... why not build up where the customers are, to show them you're hale, hearty, and ready to do business? Sometimes it costs money to make money.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254543)

I would think that the fact Chicago is a major metropolitan location and business center roughly in the center of the northern United States would still work to its advantage. Plenty of national and international organizations and businesses have branches in Chicago, despite the issues you set forward... why not build up where the customers are, to show them you're hale, hearty, and ready to do business? Sometimes it costs money to make money.

I'm not sure what data MS will be housing at the facility but most often times, most customers of MS probably don't care where the facility is. You could give the occasional tour of the place but other than knowing that MS has data storage capability and redundancy, most customers don't really care about it. Now if MS had a regional customer center in Chicago or moved their HQ there (hypothetically), that would be different.

Re:Why Chicago? (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253921)

Insightful? Please, RTFA.

Power in Northlake costs $0.05 per kWh.

Even Google's cheapest (by power cost) datacenter, their Columbia River facility on a hydro grid, costs roughly 25 cents per watt/year -- or about $.028 per kWh. Yes, slightly more than half the power cost of the Northlake facility.

However, if you think about it, there are benefits to diversified data center locations. They reduce the impact of regional disturbances such as storms (or, as you point out, power outages). They also distribute the demand for qualified labor, which keeps labor costs down.

Here's [techdirt.com] a link with some info about power costs affecting datacenter locations, with some other useful links included

Also please note that the cost of the land is one of the most minor costs of building a datacenter.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254315)

I don't doubt that the cost of electricity might be cheap in Northlake but Chicago has experienced blackouts in 1995 and 1999 during heat waves during the summer months. My argument was other places have cheaper land and more abundant and reliable electricity.

Re:Why Chicago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254457)

The Exelon electricity distribution problem during peak demand in Chicago is not a problem for MS, they have signed an agreement to make them exempt from the rolling blackouts provided that they maintain usage under a specified threshold during that time. They'll have their own substation to enable this.

Re:Why Chicago? (2, Informative)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254029)

Well, there's very little threat of earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding (unless they're building it in the basement of a bldg in the Loop, that is!).

I think you're really overstating Chicago's rolling blackout 'problem'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only blackouts I'm aware of were caused by thunderstorms, and that happens anywhere that trees coexist with overhead power lines.

And winter? Bah. Free AC for the servers for 6 months out of the year.

Land prices are tricky. Some places are completely insane, but I imagine there are plenty of older industrial areas that can be had for a relative bargain. It doesn't need to be a chic part of town for a datacenter.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254669)

I think you're really overstating Chicago's rolling blackout 'problem'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only blackouts I'm aware of were caused by thunderstorms, and that happens anywhere that trees coexist with overhead power lines.

Chicago's blackouts were normally in the summer months during heat waves when there wasn't enough electricity to meet the demand as people started turning on their AC units.

And winter? Bah. Free AC for the servers for 6 months out of the year.

There are more issues than temperature problems during a hard winter. Staffing shortages, electrical issues (as ice laden electrical lines and trees knock out power), etc that are normally associated with blizzards.

Re:Why Chicago? (3, Funny)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254177)

During the last few summer, Chicago was one of the cities that experienced rolling black outs

Perhaps Microsoft are trying to replicate their desktop experience for their hosted products?

Re:Why fuel Chicago? (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254269)

I believe M$ will burn Slackmolians @ Gentoolians( vis' Idaho Transfer ) for energy, thus decreasing Chi-town air polution. 'Course once those 15 are consumed it's back-to-coal .....

Re:Why Chicago? (2, Insightful)

miller60 (554835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254321)

While some folks are chasing power and space, many data center builders still follow the business customers. That's why there's been a data center building boom in the Chicago area in the past two years. The biggest driver has been demand from financial companies associated with futures trading in Chicago, which store lots of data and have seen strong growth in high-speed trading. Essentially, companies that can execute program trades faster than their competitor have an advantage. As low latency network technologies have improved, these companies' primary means of gaining a speed advantage is by placing their data center or cages closest to the exchange's systems - which is why this is sometimes known as "proximity trading." This is a strong business for Equinix which just opened a 250,000 square foot center in Chicago.


Hosting companies have also had strong growth in Chicago, which is similar to Dallas in that demand comes from a number of business sectors. Hostway, IDC Global, AT&T, Internap, FastServers and Gigenet have all built or expanded data centers in Chicago in the past two years.

Because Chicago Rulez (4, Informative)

slyborg (524607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254369)

From TFA:

"Microsoft has been keenly focused on power costs in its data center site location efforts. While 5 cents per kilowatt hour is in the midrange of average state-by-state power costs, it is lower than rates found near many major data center markets such as California (9 cents per kWh) or northern New Jersey (11 center per kWh)." Commonwealth Edison also generates around most of its power from nuclear reactors, making the location carbon friendly on that basis.

Sources of Electricity Supplied Percentage of Total for the 12 months ending September 30,2006

Biomass power 1%
Coal-fired power 4%
Hydro Power 0%
Natural gas-fired power 0%
Nuclear power 92%
Oil-fired power 0%
Solar power 0%
Wind power 0%
Other resources 0%
Unknown resources purchased from other companies 3%
TOTAL 100%

As noted in some other comments, Chicago also is :

(a) 3rd largest metro area in the US and largest in the Midwest
(b) a major rail hub - much fiber was laid on railroad rights of way in the go-go 90s
(c) notoriously corrupt, so it's likely Microsoft will receive massive tax subsidies that will reduce its costs

And I've lived in Chicago all my life and can't identify any "rolling blackouts" recently. ComEd had infrastructure problems with ancient cabling in the city proper 10-12 years ago during a very hot summer (as do many older cities). The main issue Chicagoans have with ComEd is with its recently raised residential rates, which were jacked up 20% despite record profits for ComEd and its parent, Exelon. This is thanks to the notoriously corrupt politics of the great state of Illinois as a whole.

Re:Because Chicago Rulez (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254667)

(c) notoriously corrupt, so it's likely Microsoft will receive massive tax subsidies that will reduce its costs

Thats the gray area corruption that you know about, the real corruption problem are the off the book "donations" you have to pay to get those tax breaks and avoid getting speeding tickets for each server.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254437)

Its near the middle of the country. The datacenter will be in the suburbs or further out (I bet) so land cost isn't a big deal.

Re:Why Chicago? (2, Insightful)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255013)

It would have been better if they actually built a datacenter in Chicago.
  • The MTC is at Clark / Lake blue line station downtown Chicago
  • Everything south of the loop is cheap as far south as Bronzeville to Hyde Park
  • Chicago rarely becomes immobile due to a winter storm: 2006's harsh winter storms brought the suburbs to a halt yet Chicago streets and expressways were drivable
  • Chicago is the transportation hub and networking hub of the Midwest

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255021)

The reason I would not put Chicago on top of the list of places is infrastructure. During the last few summer, Chicago was one of the cities that experienced rolling black outs because their electric grid couldn't handle the load.

But that is exactly the reason.

Then, when the Windows mashup fails, they just yell "BLACKOUT, BLACKOUT" while the servers are mass re-booted.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

quonsar (61695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255281)

Well, CI Host has had good luck there.

Re:Why Chicago? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255631)

Chicago, as others have noted, is a large population center near the middle of the country, a pretty good location geographically.

Chicago does not suffer a lack of electrical capacity. ComEd has had issues with reliability of some of it's older transformers and switches, which they have been aggressively (but not aggressively enough) replacing and upgrading. As far as I can recall, Chicago did not have any rolling blackouts. They have had brownouts in the past, but blackouts are usually due to blown transformers or switches or storms knocking down power lines. Blackouts are usually fixed within a couple of hours, it's extremely rare for the outage to last 24 hours or more. And, wherever located, a properly designed large data center will have feeds from more than one substation to avoid most of those problems, and emergency generator backup to allow operation for 24 to 48 hours in the event of catastrophic poser failure.

Hard winters in the Chicago area cause slow traffic, but few other problems, and roads are typically back to normal as soon as it stops snowing. As someone else stated, you can get free cooling in the winter, acutally whenever it's below 60F, if you plan it properly.

Although land and other costs are cheaper in more remote areas, the cost and reliability of infrastructure is typically worse in those kinds of areas than in major urban areas.

Finally, Northlake is not Chicago, it's a suburb, so costs are a little lower than in the city.

The availability of skilled labor is another consideration that attracts developments like this. Chicago is a pretty good location for this.

I'm in the construction business (consulting engineering) with offices downtown Chicago, so, as much as I dislike Microsoft, I take this as good news.

Industry, science and technology... (2, Funny)

elmaxxgt (980095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253683)

big men, inserting chairs into things, turning them... and adjusting them!
No, just kidding, i bet that this new center will cut the development of the log off module from 9 months to 8.
great investment :)

Suspicious... (5, Funny)

KenshoDude (1001993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253691)

440,000 square feet? Anyone else surprised that these data centers aren't 640K square feet?

Re:Suspicious... (1, Funny)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253709)

440k ought to be enough for anyone.

Re:Suspicious... (1)

polki (311849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253757)

Nobody will ever need more than 640K

Re:Suspicious... (1)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255213)

The other 200k square feet will be used for the secret government data center that monitors all electronic speak for crimethink.

More Likely (2, Funny)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253769)

an effort to keep pace with Google in web-based services.

More likely, needed to handle the DRM and spyware in Vista.

Darn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253775)

These minimum system requirements to run Vista are really getting ridiculous. ;)

Maybe Chicago isn't the wisest choice (2, Funny)

Huntr (951770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253777)

Data thieves don't [slashdot.org] screw around in Chicago [theregister.co.uk] and MS isn't exactly synonymous with "security."

Hmm (1)

MortenMW (968289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253799)

I wonder how many armed guards they are planning to employ.

Re:Hmm (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254341)

I wonder how many armed guards they are planning to employ.

as many as Google hires to protect facilities built to the same scale and as critical to maintaining their online services.

Chicago? (3, Funny)

chinton (151403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253809)

I thought they released that in 1995?!?

Re:Chicago? (3, Informative)

jimbo3123 (320148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254403)

For those youngsters on here, Windows 95 was codenamed Chicago before its release.

Re:Chicago? (2, Insightful)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255077)

And Windows 95 was nothing like what Chicago was supposed to be.

Microsoft tried to re-write DOS/Win 3.11 into what OS/2 was. The early alpha versions of Chicago showcased this.

Lots of time and dollars later they created a GUI veneer over DOS, called it Windows 95, and then marketed the hell out of it.

Servers, check! Services, not so check. (2, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253825)

Now if they just could have any useful services. Competing with google will take much more than increasing bandwidth and processing power. Current services that try their utmost to tie into the desktop just plain sucks. It should be the other way around.

Re:Servers, check! Services, not so check. (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254815)

Are all these datacenters just for Microsoft's own use? I agree, I don't see why their online presence, such as it is, would require so many half-billion dollar datacenters.

there goes billy, backing up the whole net - daily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253929)

guess they don't want to miss any of that pron! ;~|

Minimum requirements (1)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253987)

Microsoft's just upgrading its disk space so it has enough room to install the next version of its OS.

How many square feet if running *nix ? (0, Troll)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254039)

I guess that that 440,000 square feet could be reduced to 100,000 square feet if they were running a sensible operating system on their servers, and their electricity bill would be cheaper.

Anyone got some real comparison numbers ?

Re:How many square feet if running *nix ? (1)

Stringer Bell (989985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254971)

Anyone got some real comparison numbers ?

No, but that's okay - it's not nearly as much fun as pulling numbers out of our asses.

Re:How many square feet if running *nix ? (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255179)

Read about it here [techtarget.com] .

a mainframe running virtualized Linux instances can do the work of about 250 x86 processors while using as little as 2% of the energy.

$500 million? (4, Funny)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254067)

Does that include the cost of Windows licenses?

Re:$500 million? (3, Funny)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254271)

Yes, but it doesn't include the construction costs.

High Tech version of the Cold War? (4, Interesting)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254087)

Dunno why but this strange thought just popped into my head...

The Cold War of the second half of the 20th century was ultimately won by the US because the USSR couldn't keep up with the financial strain of building and maintaining such a huge military. The US basically outspent the USSR.

I wonder if we're seeing a similar thing happening between Google & MS. Back in the 80's & 90's MS was on top of the world and in control of virtually everything computer related. Their focus, however, wasn't on internet technologies until the late 90's when the first internet bubble hit. Google, on the other hand, started in the heyday of the bubble and focused entirely on the internet. Now MS is pouring tons of cash into internet projects in an effort to compete against Google since they see Google as their biggest competitive threat. MS has to deal with a dominant OS, Office products, MSN, and other products/services that they've built and acquired over the years, on top of their internet offerings. Google, on the other hand, is just focusing on the internet. I wonder if MS will eventually find that it has overextended itself by investing too much in competing with Google, and if that will end up eventually hurting them financially in a manner similar to the way the USSR went bankrupt trying to keep up with the US. It may not happen for many years, but I wonder if that's what we'll eventually see.

Re:High Tech version of the Cold War? (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254223)

You might have a point if it werent for the fact that these non-internet ventures arent money losers, they are money makers in a major way. Although google certainly does spend more on web services right now the idea that MS will go bankrupt trying to compete with them is just nuts, they can afford to spend money like noone else can.

Re:High Tech version of the Cold War? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254249)

yeah, right. $50 Billion in the bank and they are going to get outspent by Google. Get a clue.

Re:High Tech version of the Cold War? (3, Insightful)

Scumbumbo (521718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254517)

With income of just over $14 billion for the fiscal year ended July 2007, Microsoft will make back a $500 million dollar investment in a bit less than two weeks. Compared to most businesses, this investment is a bit like buying new mops for the janitorial staff.

National Sacrifice Zone (1)

buttle2000 (1041826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254135)

Just like those huge nuclear waste dumps, yet another place you dont want do go.

I wonder (3, Funny)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254587)

Are these datacentres going to be cube shaped, ala the Borg?

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21254785)

The nearest Borg building I've seen is this [davislangdon.com] one, (another pic [imperial.ac.uk] ). Looks awesome at night [flickr.com] too!

It's the Faculty Building at Imperial College, unfortunately not a datacentre :-(

Electric bill? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254647)

Microsoft could be competing with the aluminum smelters as our largest consumer of electricity. It's nice to see that they are doing their part to keep things exciting in the foreign energy market.

Re:Electric bill? (0, Offtopic)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255339)

If conservatives would stop their whining, we could solve our energy problems with wind and hydroelectric power. There is enough wind blowing across the country, on average, to handle our entire electricity load, and then some. Hydroelectric could server as a backup for the extremely small chance of a day where no wind was blowing anywhere. Our cars should be BEVs. Literally, such measures would drastically curtail pollution.
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