Friday, May 24, 2024

Microsoft Plans Virginia Data Center

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Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia announced Friday that Microsoft has decided to open a next-generation data center in the southern part of the state.

“Microsoft Corp. will invest up to $499 million to locate their latest generation data center (Gen4) in Mecklenburg County, in what will be the largest economic investment in southern Virginia history,” a statement released by the governor’s office said.

However, true to form, Microsoft is saying little about the planned new data center.

“Microsoft can confirm its plans to build a data center in Virginia but has no further comment at this time,” a spokesperson for Microsoft Global Foundation Services said in a statement e-mailed to

The company has been working assiduously for the past several years to build out data centers across the world to support its growing cloud computing initiatives.

For instance, Microsoft opened a large-scale, 700,000-square-foot data center in the Chicago areaas well as a 300,000-square-foot one in Dublin, Ireland around this time last year.

Besides the nearly half a billion dollars that the company plans to spend on the new data center, the governor’s office said the facility will also create approximately 50 new jobs in the area. The statement also said the Virginia data center will be Microsoft’s most state-of-the-art deployment to date.

“Using modular technology and advanced cooling mechanics, the center will be Microsoft’s most advanced data center,” the governor’s statement said.

As Microsoft opens more data centers around the U.S. and around the world, CIOs and other IT decision makers may find Microsoft’s ubiquity to be a motivation for adopting the software giant’s cloud technologies over competitors’ cloud platforms.

Microsoft has helped foster the construction of pre-fabricated data center modules built into containers similar to those used for shipping via ships and railroads. The units contain their own high-efficiency cooling, power routing and network connections that can be driven to the site, off-loaded, and hooked together.

The company just recently published a whitepaper describing how it is switching from using ISO standard containers to using smaller components that are more energy efficient.

Virginia, according to the governor’s office, competed against North Carolina and Texas for the facility. High on Microsoft’s priority was ready access to reliable, inexpensive electricity.

“Dominion Virginia Power…was instrumental in securing this project. Access to an extremely reliable electric supply and competitively priced electricity from environmentally responsible generation sources were critical site location factors for Microsoft,” the statement continued.

However, massive compute power is of little use if it’s not connected to customers. The governor’s office also said that the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) fiber optic network was key to Microsoft’s decision. “[MBC] will provide diverse fiber routes for connectivity to major carrier interconnection points in the eastern United States,” the statement said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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