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Microsoft Provides a Lot of Information About the Data Center Strategy Supporting Office 365 on the Global Foundation Services Team Web Site

Microsoft’s Office 365 public cloud service is hosted on Microsoft’s Data Centers, which is managed by the Global Foundation Services (GFS) Team. So any organization looking to review the mission-critical support capabilities of Office 365 will want to focus on Microsoft Data Centers and the GFS Team.

A highly detailed set of content on these topics can be found on the GFS team web site.

In a 20 minute introduction titled Building & Managing Cloud-Scale Data Centers, Dave Gauthier, Director, Datacenter Architecture at Microsoft, presents the application development architecture behind the processes Microsoft has developed for the 7×24 operation of its Datacenter operations, around the world.

Gauthier provides some useful metrics at the start of the presentation: GFS supports over 200 cloud SaaS applications, which, in turn, impact on over 1 billion users, world wide, and over 20 million organizations in over 90 markets. Office 365, he notes, is Microsoft’s fastest growing product, in history. Outlook, the cloud SaaS created as the next generation for the hotmail free email service, is used by over 400 million users, world wide.

Prominent in his list of data center components are the cooling systems required to maintain ambient temperature at targeted levels. Gauthier notes how Microsoft has transformed the usual approaches to managing the heat problem, “tremendous amounts of energy and water”, into something more workable by reducing energy and water consumption through innovation.

Only a few organizations may be aware of the depth of Microsoft’s experience building, and operating data centers. The first one, as Gauthier notes, dates back to 1989.

In 2006 Microsoft debuted its “Generation 2” data center architecture. Gauthier notes how Microsoft used this new design to reduce the Power Utilization Efficiency (PUE) ratios of its “Generation 1” data center architecture, 2.0, to “1.4 – 1.6”.

“Generation 3” of the Microsoft data center architecture was introduced in 2009. With this new approach, PUE dropped to “1.0 – 1.2”. What’s the “secret sauce” delivering the much better taste of the cost of operation for these data centers? Gauthier sums it up in a single word: “containment.” With Generation 3, engineering has successfully segregated heat and cold within the data center, hence the term containment, which refers to how hot air is managed.

Once the containment systems had been implemented, Gauthier explains how “resiliency” software was developed to ensure uniform achievement of targeted performance based upon customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

If your organization would like to learn more about the components upon which Microsoft builds its Office 365 offer, this set of videos, together with the other sets available for review on the GFS team site will likely provide you with the information you require.

Ira Michael Blonder

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