Microsoft Won't Go It Alone in Massive Data Center Project


Throughout the month of November, IT Business Edge has been presenting a Special Report series of expert interviews on Partnering for Energy Efficiency. Partnership is a simple concept that unfortunately doesn't come into play in many of the technical issues affecting the business that we cover here. But in the midst of a larger societal focus on waste and energy and actual long-term planning instead of short-term gains, the data center has become the point of focus for several types of partnerships. Vendors and clients are finding that they can help themselves by helping each other. Imagine that.


The same point is being made in reference to Microsoft's plan to build 20 gigantic data centers in an attempt to seal a leadership position in cloud computing. For $1 billion each, says Microsoft Corporate Vice President Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft will "reinvent the infrastructure of our industry."


That's great news for those who want to see where Azure might take them, and some others who just want to get the data center monkey off their backs altogether and will, for one reason or another, gravitate to Redmond for relief. Now it's down to Microsoft to push out some of those other options, up to and perhaps including Google, at least on the enterprise client side. Microsoft and Google are the two giants with the cash to undertake a project of this size. Google has the head start on building out both the services and the infrastructure supporting them, but lacks the deep knowledge of the enterprise that Microsoft has. And the other significant difference comes into play with partnership. BusinessWeek points out that Microsoft has been sharing news and ideas around its data center build-out strategy for more than a year with its industry partners (or at least with Dell, which went on record to pat Microsoft's back). During that time, Google has been pursuing a much more closed strategy, from the level of the individual machine on up to the overarching strategy.


It sounds strange in a way to say this about Microsoft, but the more open approach will let it move faster and incorporate more innovative ideas into those massive data centers. The battle is just beginning; the cloud is still up for grabs.