Speaking at Structure 08, Debra Chrapaty, corporate vice president of Global Foundation Services at Microsoft, shed some light on the cloud-based infrastructure supporting Microsoft's online services.
Despite characterizations that Microsoft is stuck in the client/server world, the company is spending billions to apply the cloud, or server/client, model, where most of the computing happens in the cloud and some small amount on the client (offline support for applications). But until Microsoft Office and other applications are built for the cloud, the laggard characterization will continue to stick to the company's forehead.
Microsoft has one of the biggest collections of Web sites, with 550 million users, 2 billion search queries, and 10 billion page views per month, as well as 8 billion messages on Microsoft Messenger per day. The company deploys 10,000 new servers per month on average to keep up with demand, Chrapaty said. She broke down Microsoft's model for building infrastructure into a three-letter acronym.
The cloud is all about GET--Growth, Efficiency, and Trust, Chrapaty said. In terms of growth, data centers are a $300 million to $500 million investment. "You have to make every kilowatt count," she said, noting that Microsoft has 35 criteria, such as network egress, power, and available staff, to determine locations for data centers.
Efficiency involves tools for manageability, operability, and sustainability, which translate into cost savings. "It's nice to go to Steve (Ballmer) and say you can save millions of billions of dollars," she said. Trust is having the security, reliability, availability, performance, and familiarity with the local languages and markets, Chrapaty explained.
Trust is also the user community feeling that privacy will be respected as people live their lives on line. That is a challenge that every large site will have to grapple with long after technology issues are resolved.