Microsoft nears facility completion

Software giant Microsoft announced on Thursday that construction for its new container data center in Northlake, a Chicago suburb, is set to tentatively be completed in the first half of October, according to a report on FranklinPark Herald-Journal.

Located at 601 Northwest Avenue, the 550,000-square-foot building will house 300,000 servers used to control Microsoft's online services. The facility marks the most significant, public use of the shipping container systems to date, says the company.

In April, Microsoft announced the project, which will move 150 to 220 shipping containers filled with data center equipment into a new 500,000 square foot facility.

To date, the outer shell of the building is complete, along with a "significant portion" of the building electrical and mechanical work, according to Mike Manos, GM of data center services at Microsoft.

The data center is built in a way that is not unlike giant Lego building blocks, where a truck will move a container holding computer equipment, cooling and electrical systems on its back. The containers installs into the "spine," which supplies the needed power and water to cool the equipment, as well as networking capabilities.

Manos said that once it completes the electrical and mechanical work, the company will start the commissioning process of testing out all the computer network servers, which should take one to two months.

The Northlake facilty, which will employ 35 to 50 people, is part of Microsoft's larger initiative to increase its Internet services. Other data center builds are currently taking place in Dublin, Ireland, San Antonio, Texas, and other places around the world.

The amount of information the company manages has doubled every year for the past three to four years, which is something that Manos anticipates to continue for at least the next five years.

The company is actively working towards lowering the amount of energy it uses in its data centers, and Manos calls the Northlake facility an "unbelievably efficient building".

Collecting a utility tax on electricity, Northlake Mayor Jeff Sherwin estimates that the new data center will bring in the city between $750,000 to $1 million a year, which will be used to finance city infrastructure and other one-time costs.

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