In an article describing Microsoft’s mainstream containerized data centers (named “C-Blox”) Microsoft general manager of data center services Michael Manos says his vision of the future of IT is IT workers who look more like “truckers and longshoremen than traditional IT workers”.
Microsoft has developed its own specifications that include, for example, configuration for electrical components and the layout of physical servers, for its containers. Those specs make Microsoft’s containers different from anything on the market today, and a potential opportunity for future Microsoft products. The containers, which Microsoft calls C-blox, are largely self-contained and will require very little hands-on maintenance.
“The doors are closed, and because of the level of automation in our systems, we can run it and accept a certain amount of failure over time,” Manos said. Manos argues that it is more cost effective to build redundancy and automation into Microsoft’s data center applications and allow some hardware to fail than it would be to physically manage such a large data center. The hands-off approach also means design can be tweaked to allow for maximum cooling and energy efficiency without worrying about how accessible the systems are to human hands. Of course, Microsoft also builds backbones that link power, cooling, and bandwidth among the containers.
In the C-blox world, a truck drops off a data center container and then picks it up again in a few years when Microsoft is ready to switch over to new hardware. Administrators will only enter the physical C-blox in the rarest of occasions. “In that sense, your IT workers look more like truckers and longshoremen than traditional IT workers,” Manos said. It will also allow Microsoft to run the entire Northlake facility with a continuous staff of little more than 20 or 30 employees.
So are we now to believe that a “truckers and longshoremen” skills shortage shows need for an increase of the 85,000 H-1B visas already available? A related question; is Microsoft’s Michael Manos merely arrogant or is he simply stupid?
Thanks to Corbis for the image.