A look into Microsoft Windows Azure datacenters

Microsoft Windows Azure is hosted in 8 datacenters located at different locations worldwide. Those locations are:

US North Central – Chicago, IL
US South Central – San Antonio, TX
West Europe – Amsterdam
North Europe – Dublin
East Asia – Hong Kong
South-East Asia – Singapore

Each datacenter is paired with a datacenter in the same regio. Data is asynchronous copied between the pairs. 13 new datacenters are under construction at the moment.

Microsoft has spent $2.5bn on its six Azure data centres.

Azure is using rackmounted servers. Servers are placed in racks. A set of of racks are placed in a container with cooling. Each container unit contains around 2500 servers and a whole datacentre has 360,000 servers.

Azure Data Center Container

The datacenters are heavily automated. There are just 12 staff members working in 3 shifts per 24 hour:  9 armed security guards and 3 administrators.

In total Azure consists of 100,000’s of servers. The capacity is expected to overdouble in the next year to 1.5. Microsoft was surprised by the demand for Azure. Deployments of servers are done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days per year.

Most of the code running on the servers is C++ which will be converted to C# in the future. The fabric controller software is written in C# (c-sharp)

Windows Azure Network Operations  is the department which monitors the Azure platform. One is located in India and the other is located at the Microsoft campus in Seattle. Two persons in the Network Operations center monitors all the Azure servers worldwide.

Here’s a 10 min video from Microsoft describing the ‘Microsoft Cloud’ and the Windows Azure data centers – with emphasis on their modular approach, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

This video shows one of the containers having Dell servers. Video was tapes in 2009. Here is another, 15 minutes video showing a Guided Tour inside the Windows Azure Cloud with Patrick Yantz

Thanks Mark Wilson for some of the information.

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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