Why Microsoft's data centre future is based on the point of ordure


It sounds like a cue for a thousand jokes from open source adherents but Microsoft has found a new source to power its data centres. In the week that Greenpeace castigated vendors for their dirty data centres, Microsoft has dug even further into the dirt and is looking to power data centres by using biogas, produced by decaying sewage.

Writing in a Microsoft blog, Christian Belady, Microsoft’s general manager data centre service said the company had to prepare to reduce its carbon footprint, while at the same time coping with increasing demand. “ As customer demand for more and more cloud services continues to grow … (we) need to aggressively plan for how we can significantly reduce our carbon footprints and make our data center operations more efficient. The necessity for clean, renewable, reliable, and low cost power will increase exponentially in the near future. Without a bold shift in strategy, our entire industry will become more dependent on a costly, antiquated, and constricted power grid.”

Belady said the company was looking to construct data centres attached to a water treatment plant or landfill site, sites that would be powered by waste gas that is usually flared off.

This approach would not only be more environmentally-friendly, it would offer a chance to power data centres more cost-effectively. Belady said this was important when the industry was facing massive demands on power. “As the demand for cloud services grows, we are looking at new methods for maintaining the high availability of our applications, while becoming more sustainable, efficient and cost effective so we can pass those benefits on to our customers and our shared environment."

He went to say that the move would allow the company greater freedom. "Our electrical grid was never methodically planned or engineered for the significant growth we are experiencing today ... Independence from the power grid will allow our industry to minimise its impact and ease some of the constriction already taking place.”