Microsoft has announced the delay of Chicago and Dublin earlier this week (Microsoft will open Dublin and Chicago Data Centers as Customer Demand Warrants. A few weeks ago the Des Moines data center delay was announced ( Arne Josefsberg and Mike Manos announced these delays in there Building a Better Mousetrap, a.k.a. Optimizing for Maximum efficiency in an Economic Downturn blog posting.

This is a good, fiscally responsible decision given the current tough economic conditions. It’s the right time to be slowing down infrastructure investments. But, what surprises me is the breadth of the spread between planned expansion and the currently expected Microsoft internal demand. That’s at least surprising and bordering on amazing. Let’s look more closely. Chicago has been estimated to be in the 60MW range (30MW to 88MW for the half of the facility that is containerized): First Containerized Data Center Announcement. Des Moines was announced to be a $500MW facility ( I’m assuming that number is both infrastructure and IT equipment so , taking the servers out, would make it roughly a $200M investment. That would make it a roughly 15MW critical load facility. Dublin was announced as a $500M facility as well ( so, using the same logic, it’ll be at or very near 15MW of critical load.

That means that a booming 90MW of facilities critical load have been delayed over the last 30 days. That is a prodigious difference between planned supply and realized demand. I’ve long said that capacity planning was somewhere between a black art and pure voodoo and this is perhaps the best example I’ve seen so far.

We all knew that the tough economy was going to impact all aspects of the services world and the Microsoft announcement is a wake-up call for all of to stare hard at our planned infrastructure investments and capacity plans and make sure they are credible. I suspect we’re heading into another period like post-2000 when data center capacity is widely available and prices are excellent. Hats off to Mike and Arne from Microsoft for continuing to be open and sharing their decisions broadly. It’s good for the industry.

Across the board, we all need to be looking hard at our build-out schedules.


James Hamilton, Amazon Web Services

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