Microsoft Buys Land for Massive Data Center Expansion in Quincy, Wash.

by Pedro Hernandez

Microsoft scooped up an additional 200 acres in the tech giant's native home state halfway between Seattle and Spokane to construct a massive new data center.

In yet another sign that Microsoft is serious about the cloud, the company has been identified as the buyer of a 200-acre site in Quincy, Wash., that will become home to a new data center.

The Port of Quincy announced in a statement that it was selling 60 acres that it owns to Microsoft and reselling an adjacent 142 acres owned by a private party, which was recently annexed and now falls within city limits. All told, the transaction, which is expected to close in late January, will be worth $11 million and will stand as one of Quincy's largest land deals.

Quincy is in central Washington, roughly equidistant from Seattle and Spokane, Wash. The deal, nearly a year in the making, will culminate in a data center that is expected to create 100 full-time jobs. It's not Microsoft's first data center in the area. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company "built its first server farm on 75 acres of port property in 2007," noted the statement.

Other technology companies have erected data centers in the area, including Yahoo, Dell and Intuit. "Low electrical costs have made Quincy an attractive option for many of these companies," port officials noted.

Microsoft plans to expand its cloud services slate, which includes Windows Azure. Currently, the company "delivers 200+ services to 1+ billion customers and 20+ million businesses," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK in an email confirming the land deal with Quincy.

"As demand grows for our online and cloud services, Microsoft is anticipating growth in its cloud infrastructure and we are continuously exploring new potential data center locations and investing in space to bring these services to our customers," the spokesperson stated in the email.

Affordable electricity aside, the location also supports Microsoft's green IT initiatives. "Quincy is a particularly popular location for data centers," GeekWire's Blair Hanley Frank wrote. This is because "the town's power comes from a pair of hydroelectric dams along the Columbia River, at a time when companies are searching for sustainable ways to power their server farms," Frank wrote.

Microsoft has been making a big push in recent years to minimize the environmental footprint of its expanding cloud computing empire. In Virginia, Microsoft pledged to adopt Earth-friendly technologies and practices for its $348 million data center expansion in Mecklenburg County.

"These facilities showcase state-of-the-art designs developed from our latest technology and infrastructure research that continues to minimize water, energy use and building costs, while increasing computing capacity, software capabilities and server utilization," said Microsoft Data Center Services general manager Christian Belady in a statement when the company announced the Mecklenburg County project in January.

Microsoft is also investing in clean energy projects that do not directly impact its operations. The software giant has agreed to purchase all of the power generated by the soon-to-be built Keechi Wind Farm Project in Texas for 20 years, a commitment that ensures the renewable energy plant's construction.

A speedy Internet backbone also makes the site attractive for cloud service providers. "Fiber-optic Internet provider Level 3 has also spent a great deal of money beefing up the town's connection to its Internet backbone, so that companies can score high speeds from their data centers," wrote Frank.

After the land deal closes, Microsoft plans to begin construction during the spring of 2014. Microsoft expects to complete the first phase of the project by early 2015.

Originally published on eWeek.
This article was originally published on Thursday Dec 26th 2013
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