Take a look inside Microsoft’s Quincy, Wash. data center

Microsoft's data center Quincy Wash.
Credit: Microsoft
The growth of a data center

For some IT people, looking into one data center is like looking into a thousand different data centers: They all look, feel and even smell the same. Rows and rows of racks, raised floors, cables everywhere, and millions of blinking lights make up the typical data center experience, and you might think the art of data center design had been baked down to a fine science by now.

For the cloud giants, however -- Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and the like -- data centers are not set in stone. Rather, they evolve in generations as servers get more powerful, power becomes cheaper and computers less hungry for it, and scale becomes hyper. Data centers that contain millions of servers operate on a different level, and their operation is closely guarded, as each of these giants thinks that the way it runs its millions of servers is a competitive advantage.

I was invited to peek behind the scenes, however, as part of a group touring Microsoft's growing Quincy, Wash. data center last month to see some of what Microsoft calls its data center evolution. Our group was not permitted to take photos, but Microsoft provided images that exactly match what I saw on the tour. Follow along as we look at how cloud and hyperscale changes the way data centers are put together.

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