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Microsoft to put "many millions" of servers in cloud

June 03, 2008

Bill Gates, in his farewell address at Microsoft's TechEd developer conference today, sketched out Microsoft's expansive plan for cloud computing. The company, he said, will have "many millions" of servers in a network of data centers. Those centers will ultimately provide as utility services everything done today by traditional Microsoft software installed on local servers:

We're taking everything we do at the server level, and saying that we will have a service that mirrors that exactly. The simplest one of those is to say, okay, I can run Exchange on premise, or I can connect up to it as a service. But even at the BizTalk level, we'll have BizTalk Services. For SQL, we'll have SQL Server Data Services, and so you can connect up, build the database. It will be hosted in our cloud with the big, big data center, and geo-distributed automatically. This is kind of fascinating because it's getting us to think about data centers at a scale that never existed before. Literally today we have, in our data center, many hundreds of thousands of servers, and in the future we'll have many millions of those servers.

The design of massive data centers, said Gates, is one of the key areas of innovation in computing today, and the huge investments required will limit the construction of cloud-computing centers to just a handful of companies:

When you think about the design of how you bring the power in, how you deal with the heating, what sort of sensors do you have, what kind of design do you want for the motherboard, you can be very radical, in fact, come up with some huge improvements as you design for this type of scale. And so going from a single server all the way up to this mega data center that Microsoft, and only a few others will have, it gives you an option to run pieces of your software at that level.

Cloud services will be offered through three different business models, said Gates: "Some of these will be free, some will be ad-supported. A number, the ones that provide rich [service] guarantees, will be provided on a commercial basis [ie, through subscription or other fees]."

Gates also suggested that different kinds of services would be provided in different locations, depending on the capacity of local networks:

... if you look at the really utilitarian uses of the Internet, a lot of those can be done at fairly low bandwidth, even with a cell phone in a rural village in say Africa or India looking at the crop prices or your health records or getting advice and things like that. So, we will have to start to think of the Internet as including parts that are not super high bandwidth and adopting applications for that, and then another part which is more in the rich-world urban type area where you can assume [the availability] of very high bandwidth.

That's a good point: It will be a long, long time before the cloud covers the globe uniformly.


So where do you think Yahoo fits in with Gates' vision?

Posted by: MarcFarley [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2008 12:29 PM

Actually, Arthur C. Clark proposed the use of orbiting communication satellites to form networks in a letter to the editor of "Wireless World" in February 1945:
Peace Time Uses of V2
So, the idea was around a long time before Bill Gates and M$ told us it was a good idea! Thanks again for showing how "cutting edge" you really are! ;)

Posted by: Linuxguru1968 [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2008 05:37 PM

@Marc Farley

I think the answer might have something to do with Steve Ballmer being functionally replaced with a VS2008 programmed robot ;-)

Posted by: Thomas [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2008 05:42 PM

MS vs. Google competing over large scale computing arsenals? It feels like the US/USSR nuclear arms race all over again.

What was the name of the strategy behind such a build up? Oh, yeah. Mutually assured destruction.

Posted by: JG [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2008 08:50 PM

"Microsoft to put "many millions" of servers in cloud".

Doing what?

Posted by: Sam [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 9, 2008 07:02 PM

At DataCenterKnowledge.com I read an article about Microsoft installing servers at a rate of 10.000 to 20.000 per month at present. Using their containers it will allow Microsoft to have datacenters with 300.000 Servers.
The plan is to have 15 times the number of servers in five year, than they have now, having a 100% annual growth rate.
I believe Bill when he is saying that Microsoft will reach 'millions of server' in some years from now.

Posted by: RolandJudas [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2008 03:30 PM

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