Wednesdays are the diet coke of weekdays. It’s easy to fall behind by Wednesday, so we’re trying a new feature here at DCT called the Mid-Week Brief. Yes, I’m aware we launched yesterday and I’m already talking about falling behind.
Every Wednesday, we’ll take a rapid-fire run-through of all the big stories of the week so far, as well as preview emerging stories we’re keeping an eye on.
Microsoft acquires GitHub
A big week at Microsoft, as the company acquired open source code repository Github for $7.5B in stock. Github is much beloved in the open source community, so proprietary Microsoft’s acquisition is drawing some concern. Will Microsoft treat the acquisition properly, or slap on Kinect, require always-on connectivity and brick used copies of code? You know, like the initial plan for Xbox One. Never forget.
In all seriousness, the rationale for Microsoft makes perfect sense. It’s in a heated cloud battle with Google and AWS, and all three are courting the developer community as a key part of their strategy. Developers are influential when it comes to companies adopting a cloud platform. They build cool stuff on said cloud platform, and occasionally build applications that blow up in popularity, meaning more business.
We’ll delve deeper into the acquisition soon.
…and sinks a data center
Microsoft is testing out a submarine data center in the Scottish sea to determine if an underwater data center is feasible.
For those of you new to the data center world: welcome. The energy bill to cool data centers is so crazy that this kind of out-of-the-box thinking is almost necessary.
Microsoft is sinking expensive equipment in perhaps the most hostile environment possible (if you don’t count volcanoes. A volcano data center would be plain stupid. Challenge accepted, anyone? Iceland doesn’t count.)
The data center will sit in the sea for 5 years, where 5 racks and 860+ servers consisting of 27.6 petabytes of storage will plug away. It will be powered by an undersea cable, with renewable energy from the Orkney Islands.
In addition to needing a tremendous amount of cooling, servers are not fans (pun unintended) of moisture. Microsoft sucked all the oxygen and water vapor out of the data center to ensure things go smoothly. If a server croaks, it’ll remain dead. The savings on cooling will likely offset the cost of any dead servers. Microsoft is a wizard at software-defined failover in data centers, allowing it to get creative with environments.
Other examples of experimenting to reduce bills include the very successful Quincy campus, where the company refined open air data centers not requiring a physical building. There was the data center powered by cow poop in Omaha, though we haven’t heard much about that in recent times.
This isn’t even the first underwater dog and pony show for Microsoft. This is phase 2 of the project. It’s been experimenting with subsea data centers for half a decade, last attempting to do this on the California coast. It’s completely understandable, as the energy bills here sometimes make me want to walk into the sea.
There has been a lot of data center activity in cooler climates such as the Nordic countries in a bid to reign in energy consumption.
I applaud Microsoft for going hard with the green initiatives. I visited their Quincy data center campus a few years back, and was impressed.
The Mystery Eagle Mountain Data Center Belongs to Facebook
A few weeks ago, DCT covered proposed tax breaks for a mystery data center project in Utah. Governor Gary Herbert announced today that Facebook is the owner of the project.
As we noted in the last article, $150M in tax incentives were approved for the project. Facebook will additionally save up to $5.8M in sales tax
Tax incentives factor big in hyperscale data center projects.
CyrusOne Purchases 70 acres in Mesa, Arizona
CyrusOne plans to build a second data center in the area. The state provides tax exemptions to data centers to attract their business.
The plan for the campus is five buildings and up to 198MW of critical power. There’s little other info so far, but DCT will keep tracking the story.
CyrusOne operates 45 data centers across the United States, Europe and Asia. Though its footprint in Europe and Asia kind of feels like the bare minimum required to claim a presence.
Stateside, however, it has seen tremendous success – particularly with cloud providers. Its pitch is it builds massively and quickly. For cloud companies requiring multiple megawatts fast, it’s appealing. It’s modular construction practices allow it to price wholesale colocation at extremely competitive rates
Vanguard Group Exploring Potential Northern Virginia Data Center
Vanguard, a $5 trillion-asset investment giant, has scouted Northern Virginia as potential site for its new data center. The company is considering transferring its technical staff from its headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania as well.
Northern Virginia is the major East Coast hub, with 70% of all Internet traffic passing through.
Washington Attorney General Sues Facebook and Google
The state of Washington is suing both companies over allegations they violated campaign finance laws. Over the past decade, candidates and political committees reported $3.4M in payments to Facebook and $1.5M to Google related to advertising.
The lawsuit alleges they failed to maintain records on entities that have purchased political ads on their platforms. That violates state campaign finance laws.
It’s too early to call this one.
Google Staff Successfully Rages Against The Machine
During a shareholder meeting today, a Google employee will argue that executive compensation should be tied to diversity goals, according to USA Today.
Activism is on the rise at Google, and the company has so far responded to employee concerns.
A staff letter to cancel a Department of Defense Contract at Google recently proved successful. Around 4,000 Google employees signed a letter asking Google’s CEO to nix the Project Maven contract, and to avoid “the business of war” completely. Google cloud chief Diane Greene said the company won’t renew the contract in response to the letter.
The Defense department previously hired the Google Cloud team to work on Project Maven, an artificial intelligence project to analyze drone footage.
I’m shocked the letter was effective. I applaud Google for caring about the voice of their employees. The “no military work” voice, not the sexist codebro manifesto that made the news a while back. Remember that cretin?
We’ll track the story as it develops.