On most days it takes the right access badge and a biometric scan to make it inside the doors of Microsoft's massive data center. But on Wednesday, the company allowed a group of reporters, customers, and partners to tour the 700,000 square foot facility.
The data center, along with another just-opened facility in Dublin, Ireland and existing centers in San Antonio and Quincy, Wash., serve as the guts behind Microsoft's online ambitions, from Bing to Hotmail to Windows Azure.
But, for all its strategic import, the ground floor of the Chicago plant looks more like a truck parking lot than a traditional data center. In each parking spot, though, Microsoft can drop off a container packed with up to 2,000 servers [news.cnet.com].
It's a totally different approach than Google's. Instead of repairing on the server and component level, Microsoft just lets servers die inside the sealed containers until a threshold per container is reached. Then the full container is shipped back to the manufacturer for repair. I hope they will wipe the disks before shipping though.