Environmental advances and expanded international computing delivered
This is a big week for Microsoft’s online, live, and cloud services as we celebrate the grand opening of our new data center in Dublin, Ireland. The Dublin facility delivers two key advances for Microsoft’s Software plus Services initiatives. One is expanded support for all our customers in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, thanks to Microsoft’s first mega data center built outside of the U.S. The other is dramatically improved environmental sustainability, resulting from innovative technology that takes advantage of the naturally cool climate in Ireland.
Regarding expanded international support, the new data center is already playing an important role in helping meet growing customer demand for Microsoft services in Europe and beyond. The facility, which began operations on July 1, 2009, currently covers 303,000 square feet, with 5.4 mega watts of critical power available to deliver services to consumers and business customers. Over time, the data center can expand to a total of 22.2 mega watts of critical power to support our growing cloud services. Combined with our other new mega data center in Chicago, Illinois—which we’ll celebrate the grand opening of next week on September 30—Microsoft is taking significant steps forward in our cloud computing capabilities.
It is important to note that at both facilities we will ramp up capacity incrementally to meet increases in customer demand. We are making thoughtful, measured investments in order to contain costs at the same time that we build out our infrastructure to deliver a secure cloud foundation, with robust performance and availability for services around the world.
Regarding the environment and Green IT factors, Microsoft is leveraging a combination of natural environmental factors to dramatically improve the environmental sustainability of the Dublin data center as compared to traditionally-built data centers. The average temperature range year round in Dublin is between 23 to 80 degrees F (-5 to 27 degrees C) and that, combined with the use of air-side economization, results in “free cooling” (chiller-free) operations 100% year round under normal operating conditions. This in turn significantly reduces water consumption and the use of chemicals required to treat cooling towers, which are common throughout the data center industry but not required in our Dublin facility.
Air-handling units on the roof of the data center (see photos above and below) draw outside air down into the facility to cool the server rooms, and then return hot air back out to the roof. Traditional data centers, on the other hand, cool server rooms with chillers, which consume a great deal of power and water. No chillers are used in the Dublin data center. The outside air that cools the facility is usually lower than the 95 degree F limit for our server rooms. If it ever exceeds that temperature, or in the extremely rare event of external air quality issues such as a nearby fire, Direct eXpansion (DX) cooling will be used. DX is a simpler means of mechanical cooling that is normally used for residential, automotive, or light commercial applications.
As a result of these measures the Dublin facility will use less than 1% of the water that traditional data center facilities typically use on an annual basis, and will improve Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) by approximately 50%.
These improvements are part of our continued corporate commitment to environmental sustainability. Microsoft is a proud participant and endorser of the European Union (EU) Code of Conduct for Data Centres, a voluntary program that encourages organizations responsible for the operations of data centers to utilize technologies, systems, and processes that maximize the efficient use of electricity. We are one of the largest online service providers to sign the EU’s Code of Conduct for Data Centres. Our participation includes a commitment to continuing to develop and employ innovative systems and processes that deliver computing scale to meet our evolving Software plus Services business initiatives with the lowest possible consumption of power and natural resources. We also work actively with The Green Grid and Climate Savers Computing industry consortiums and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advance sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint of data centers globally.
On September 16 we were honored to be recognized as a Best Practice in the European Commission's Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign for innovative achievements in design and operational strategies that are driving greater sustainability and efficiency at the Dublin facility.
While our best practices are competitive advantages for Microsoft, we hope they will also help others in the industry make the cloud a safer and more reliable place that companies can trust for their operations. Very few companies can make the infrastructure investment that Microsoft has, so we think it is important to share our best practices with the industry. This is one of many reasons we decided to hold a grand opening of the facility today.
I’d like to close by noting how this week’s grand opening helps celebrate and build upon Microsoft’s long-term investment in operations in the Republic of Ireland. Microsoft Ireland is now nearing the 25-year anniversary mark, and I believe the building of the Dublin data center will long be remembered as a key milestone of our relationship with this community. The $500 million facility is one of the largest construction projects in Ireland over last 12 months and has generated approximately 1 million man-hours of work with a peak workforce of around 2,100 workers. The data center will also provide approximately 35-50 jobs in the Dublin area for years to come.
It is exciting to unveil this marvellous facility and I’d like to extend my thanks to all the people inside and outside Microsoft who helped make it happen.
General Manager of Infrastructure Services
Global Foundation Services