At the heart of the Microsoft Cloud are servers, networks, Internet connections, and much, much more! These data centers share a lot of qualities with traditional Enterprise data centers; such as fire suppression, humidity control, temperature control and more.
One major difference between the traditional Enterprise data center is that Microsoft uses Containers (called ITPACs) to build out it’s data centers. These Containers are Shipping Containers fitted with all the necessary climate control, networking, server racks and other hardware necessary to be a “mini” data center all in one. Then many of these are connected together within on of Microsoft’s Azure data centers to build out the full data centers.
The manufacture of the Server Containers can be done just about anywhere in the world, then shipped on-site to the data center location where it’s hooked up. This allows for the data centers to be built much more cheaply than in the past; as well as making it both easier and cheaper to replace servers. Another benefit of using Containers, is that they are much more recyclable and reusable than traditional data center building methods.
The scale of Microsoft Azure data centers is pretty amazing. They contain hundreds of these Containers; each capable of housing as many as 2,500 servers.
Here’s a short Microsoft Data Center Tour video:
Yes the video is a little dated, but it doesn’t look like Microsoft has released a newer, more updated version.
Here’s another short video showing a ITPAC container being delivered at a Microsoft Azure Data Center in Chicago: