Microsoft Data Center Tour (Amsterdam)
We pursued the question – what does the Microsoft Cloud look like? Here is our report:
The way from Amsterdam to the “Cloud” is definitely worth a trip. A dreamlike journey through nature reserves, Teslas and animals. The barriers around the site are reminiscent of modern US prisons – the security service and vehicle inspections are also comparable. We receive a warm welcome and need to hand over any equipment that could produce photos. The safety instructions are interrupted by an announcement indicating a planned failover test. Passports are handed in, everything is signed, let’s go.
It took 14 months to build Azure DC 5. The admirable site was built in 2016 and has an expected useful life of 10 years maximum. Azure DC 6 was ready for operation in 9 months. Azure DC 7 should not take longer than 6 months to complete. It is about energy efficiency, capacity and independence through open industry standards such as OCP.
Air conditioning, gas systems, narrow corridors and double bottoms are missing. Instead, outside air is used for cooling, wide aisles, clinical conditions, overhead lines and a lot of labels, instructions and test certificates. A comparison between Formula 1 and the back alley workshop comes up, while the pictures of various computer centers and rooms are flashing through my mind.
Everything runs software-controlled. Manual interventions are limited to the exchange of components. Replaced parts are delivered in recycling boxes, no part is allowed to leave the heart of the data center. The recycling department reminds of the production of psychotropic drugs, clinically and thought through down to the last detail. Where are the times when whole servers, including all disks, were allowed to roll around in storage rooms forever without being immediately processed into granulate?
The external UPS systems are reminiscent of US trucks, NIRO sheet metal and oversized exhaust pipes. 19 pieces decorate DC 5. The tests take place at night to avoid irritations on the nearby highway. AAA agreements with several fuel suppliers ensure UPS operation over several days.
The fact that Amazon and Google are setting up their data centers within a radius of 1 km makes me think even longer about the future of the cloud on the way back to Amsterdam…