Microsoft jumps feet first into the future with cloud server designs

Microsoft is joining the Open Compute Project, a community focused on engineering the most efficient hardware for cloud and high-scale computing via open collaboration.

Announced by Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft at the Open Compute Summit this week, the software giant is also contributing to the OCP through the Microsoft cloud server specification.

According to Laing, the specification represents the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacentres delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others.

“We are excited to participate in the OCP community and share our cloud innovation with the industry in order to foster more efficient datacenters and the adoption of cloud computing,” he says.

“The Microsoft cloud server specification essentially provides the blueprints for the datacenter servers we have designed to deliver the world’s most diverse portfolio of cloud services.

“These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and built to handle the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform.

“They offer dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times.

“We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by 10,000 tons across our base of 1 million servers.”

Microsoft is the only global cloud provider to publicly release these server specifications through OCP, with the information Redmond is sharing highly detailed.

“As part of this effort, Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. is open sourcing the software code we created for the management of hardware operations, such as server diagnostics, power supply and fan control,” Laing adds.

“We would like to help build an open source software community within OCP as well.

“The specifications we’re contributing to OCP reflect our long history in datacenter architecture and cloud computing.

“We started managing our own datacenters in 1989, and delivered our first global online service, MSN, in 1995. We have invested more than $15 billion in our cloud infrastructure and today provide more than 200 cloud services to 1 billion customers and 20 million businesses in more than 90 markets around the world.

“Simply put, we have learned a tremendous amount building and operating some of the world’s largest cloud services.”

Laing says in joining OCP and making this contribution, the software giant is building on a long track record of sharing our cloud hardware learnings.

“This effort aligns with our Cloud OS strategy,” Laing says. “Microsoft is unique in the industry in that we offer cloud platforms, such as Windows Azure, as well as the software infrastructure for enterprise customers and partners to build their own clouds.

“As a result, we can continually take technology and best practices from our public cloud offerings, and build them into our private cloud solutions.

“It’s a virtuous cycle that enables a consistent hybrid cloud platform – a Cloud OS – spanning Windows Azure, partner clouds and customer datacenters.”

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