back to article Microsoft running on at least 220,000 servers

Exactly how many servers does Microsoft own? Well, we still don't for sure, but it looks as if Redmond is running at least 148,357 boxes. A crafty web site called iStartedSomething caught Microsoft revealing its metal haul in a promotional video. The question and answer session with Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    A hell of a lot of reboots

    I bet they employ one guy whose sole job is to go around rebooting the machines every so often. You know, when the screen turns blue or when the pagefile gets too big. :o)

    \Mine's the blue one with the white error message printed on it.

  2. Jodo Kast
    Black Helicopters

    At least it's not 4.21 gigawatts

    Kilowatts? Child's play!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Global operations = global risk

    Hopefully Microsoft really thinks hard about opening that data center in Siberia with recent events over that way ;)

  4. Don Mitchell


    Based on a photo, I think its hard to say what Microsoft is running, because they are probably always installing new hardware and have lots of older hardware in some centers. I know around 2000, Microsoft favored quad-core rack-mounted servers in their data centers. Single-proc blades were made popular then by Linux, which was still not great at multiproc performance at that point in time.

  5. Paul

    just imagine a beowulf cluster of those


    sorry, tradition must be upheld!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Much, much tin

    All those datacentres are the biggies, but individual sites (eg Reading, UK) will have several hundred more - some for line-of-business apps that don't travel well to the nearest datacentre, some for customer testing, some for things like the swipe-card door system, etc. There's been a big effort to get as many boxes retired and into the datacentres as possible, but 'a few hundred' per major site would still be a fair estimate.

    The 8.5 servers/rack - don't forget a heap of those will be big hefty heavy-lifting boxes with many many virtual servers on them, or maybe running a stack of drives as members of the SAN

  7. Cavehomme
    IT Angle



  8. Anonymous Coward


    640K servers ought to be enough....

    ... wait, not even 300K ?

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Goo


    lol I wonder if they use those servers for IIS just handle

  11. Neil Greatorex

    @ By Paul

    Umm, this isn't /. so it's not our tradition.

    I, however, bow to our new traditional overlords. :^)

  12. Richard Steiner


    Those 220,000 servers are probably able to do the work of at least a dozen Sun boxes. :-)

  13. RW
    Jobs Horns

    The Blue Screen of Death

    I wonder if Ballmer's office has a wall display consisting of 220,000 blue LEDs that indicate the machines currently showing the BSOD.

    Would make an interesting display.

    PS: it strikes me that these figures leave out the various desktop and laptop machines. Surely each MS employee has at least one.

  14. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Oh imagine a Swedish Polis Pirate Bay Style raid on a M$ server bay where they take whole the lot back to the home office for additional analysis , the data collapse spike would be enormous !

    But then again when you have two billion plus computers phone home and say feed me , with windows vista babies in the remote woods calling home far more often then you think several times a day for every trivial problem they encounter and the red ring of death game hotboxes gobbling up reserves , little wonder that 10,000 new units per month can handle the load or why they use the ever compliant scalable unix as well !

    Or should they take a leaf out of the Azureus code book and use bit torrent to self distribute updates ?

  15. stuart Thompson


    "But, er, if those numbers are to be believed, then Microsoft runs about 8.5 servers per rack, which seems disheartening in this day and age of bladey goodness."

    Depends which are you look at, assuming that both sets of data are sorted alphabetically which they appear to be if you match overall server count with Kw consumed in the two screen grabs.

    They appear to show that for example Columbia has 37,230 servers in 2,550 making 14.6 severs per rack on average, however Dublin has 1,209 servers in 318 racks making 3.8 servers per rack.

    Interestingly if we take these figures and combine them with the utility power consumed we see that Columbia uses roughly 300W/server and Dublin is running at 950W/server???.

    i have to say that 950W for a server seems a little high so maybe i have fudged something along the way, although if you check out Amsterdam they come out at a thoroughly respectable 288W/server.

    Can a server consume nearly 1Kw? do these consumption figures include operating costs, i.e lighting, air con etc.

    Any thoughts??

  16. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @ Andrew Langhorn, "Much, much tin"

    Until the rollout of Windows 2000, Microsoft was _all_ Unix in their corporate operations and development networks. One reason Windows 3.x was so bad is that they didn't have to use it internally and suffer the pain their customers were. They were running Sun hardware, IIRC.


  17. Fozzy

    Service pack time !!!!!

    Those poor bastards must cringe every time a service pack or critical hot fix is released.

  18. Sleeping Dragon
    Paris Hilton

    When I saw that title...

    ... the first thing I though was - "At long last, Vista Ready hardware".

    Paris, because even she appreciates big hardware

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Global operations = global risk

    True, Microsoft needs to think hard. It needs to think hard if it should sponsor a USA president which will order a muppet on CIA payroll to murder 1500 civilians in cold blood to ensure that the current USA president pocket Star War project proceeds unimpeded.

    This is the reason for the entire Ossetian war:

    It was nothing but an extremely bloody PR exercise to ensure that the Polish public opinion is not 60%+ against signing on the eve of the event (and to make sure that the Polish politicians do not dare chickening out).

    So as a matter of fact, from the perspective of the "stability" of its Siberian (and other strange places) projects Microsoft has a considerabledegree of control on it. The stability is largely determined in Capitol Hill and executed from Langley. A USA corporation with the MSFT turnover can always make itself heard and its interest defended in both places.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    8.5 Servers / rack

    I take it it excludes Switches, Patch panels, Routers, Raid arrays, SANS etc etc.

    We have several racks with one server in each. The rest taken up with other hardware and I doubt we are unique.

  21. druck Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    Re Re: Global operations = global risk

    I'm all for free speech, but can we keep the foaming at the moth crackpots and their downright offensive CIA conspiracy theories in topics relating to the Georgian conflict, and not allow them to infest the rest of the comments sections, it gets in the way of a decent round of Microsoft bashing.

  22. Dave Ashton


    from a 'number of servers discussion' to MS=WAR MONGERING BASTARDS in 19 comments. A record?

  23. Tim Spence

    Yes, but...

    ...when linked together, can they run Crysis?

    Mine's the one with the worn out joke book in the pocket.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    "8.5 servers per rack"

    "Microsoft runs about 8.5 servers per rack"

    Now, I'm sure that's meant to be "Microsoft [software] runs [on] about 8.5 servers per rack" - the rest of the servers will be Linux based, for reliability, scalability and flexibility (obviously the apache headers will need to be replaced by the IIS versions etc)

    As for google, last I heard (probably about 18 months ago), they had about 10000 servers, running a highly customised version of linux and doing a hell of a lot more than Microsofts 200000!

  25. Riscyrich

    1.21 Gigawatts !

    1.21 Gigawatts !

  26. kondor vlastos
    Paris Hilton

    "foaming at the moth"

    And, MS has had an office at the NSA for a very long time where they received assistance with all those "back doors". I mean, who really knows what goes on behind those Blue Screens?

    Pity the Russians didn't really invade GA and straighten out the traffic in Atlanta.

  27. Sam
    Gates Horns

    @stuart Thompson

    We have a Dell Power edge 6800 with a single 3Ghz Xeon, 20Gb of ram and 8 internal SAS disks. I have measured its power usage and it runs most of the day between 640 and 680 watts. The most impressive thing about the system is that the power supplies are rated at 1.8Kw each. As such I can wel believe a bigger quad socket server with a proper amount of ram could use 900+watts.

    Shame Microsoft don't have to run their own power station to run these buggers, if they did we could get old green peace on there case.

  28. Matthew
    Dead Vulture


    I see the loonies have been let out for their Friday Home Visits.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft pwns not owns

    Nah, you've got it wrong...

    "Moving forward, however, Redmond will need to try a bit harder if it's to meet Bill Gates' goal of owning millions of servers."

    ...they're looking to pwn servers not own them. After all, they already pwned millions of desktops with that insecure little OS they called Windows XP. Pwning desktops running Vista isn't a challenge because nobody's running the damn thing, so instead they'll release an app (cunningly disguised as a hotfix) that opens up all the 2K and 2K3 servers instead. Oh lordy... we're all doomed!

    Mine's the one with the cute little penguin that is capable of beating Microsoft's finest designers and coders without even trying (and doing it all in it's spare time as a hobby too!)

  30. Kwac

    @ "foaming at the moth"

    Yup, time for the 'head in sands' MS fanboys to strike up the 'lunatic comments' deflection shields.

    Already common knowledge that the FBI are an operating branch of MS's 'Business Software Alliance' - why else would they accompany the BSA 'representatives when they've been refused entrance to a firm for an 'audit' and wandered of with computers for analysis in the FBI labs. No great stretch of the imagination to recognise that if the FBI can do it openly in the land of the free, the CIA will be doing it elsewhere.

    One other point "over that way" - Tbilisi (Georgia) is 1600 miles from Omsk (Siberia, the Russian federation) - about the same as distance as Chicago, Illinois to Mexico City, Mexico - hardly local.

    Governor of the largest part of Siberia is the world's 15th richest man (and close friend of Vladimir Putin) Roman Abramovich. i.e. Siberia is probably one of the safest places on the planet to put a data centre - I doubt very much that the Russian Federation are going to be attacked by the Russian Federation in the way that Georgia was.

  31. James Pickett
    Gates Horns

    Only one careful owner

    "running on at least 220,000 servers"

    And not running on how many..?

  32. stuart Thompson


    cheers for clearing that up, theyre some pretty damn hefty PSU'

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Being in the Rockies has one advantage...

    .... rumour has it MS recently purchased several lakes in Washington state to build hydro-electric power stations for their data centres.

    Hard to know exactly what they have but 220k is a low side estimate - they are building many new data centres (e.g. in Ireland) to host the server side of their Software + Services strategy. Google probably still owns more but MS is catching up fast.

    And despite what the Linux wishers hope the vast majority of live systems are running Windows Server (well over 99.9% of servers I'd bet) many even on prerelease software. The only live Linux are supporting apps from acquisitions that have not bee rolled off them.

  34. David Kelly


    M$ is way behind on the virtualisation bandwagon. More hardware for them then ..

  35. James O'Brien

    @Tim Spence

    Damn you for getting to the joke first. :P

  36. Nick

    Re: Serevrs

    Don Sample wrote:

    "I know around 2000, Microsoft favored quad-core rack-mounted servers in their data centers."

    I didn't think there were any multi-core processors around in 2000 that supported Windows?

  37. Christian Berger

    Well they cannot pack them further

    I mean they need to have KVM access to each one of those boxes as there probably is no reliable way to manage a Windows box remotely. It's also hard to install such a box without KVM. So I guess they have lots of keyboards monitor and mice.

  38. robert


    since servers are getting faster and faster per server you think that they would need less and less servers, unless the growth rate at microsoft is just crazy high

  39. stizzleswick

    @Nick Re: Serevrs

    I think Don meant servers with four CPU cores, not with multicore chips.

  40. b166er


    But are you sure that's not Jigawatts?

  41. rick buck


    MS Does Own 220,000 OR MORE,

    'cause THEY OWN YOURS!

  42. Mike Groombridge

    Roman Abramovich

    hang on the same Abramovich who was fined be putin for dodge deals the one putin wanted in jail. the one all the tv channels ran documentatires about how the russian government hated him. and the reason he sank millions into briton in the hope of moving here to get out of russia. and the only reason his still Governor there is he supports a whole town on his billions that would otherwise by unlivable(one likeable thing about the guy). yeah i'm sure with his billions microsoft's money is going to be a big incentive hey maybe he'll get them to pay for his town so he can resign as Governor.

    don't like the guy after all he owns chelsea FC but you got to respect man who can make millions from a dodge deal during the collapse of soviet russia. and a. still be alive and b. still be quite respectable.(even after corruption charges and a fine of million if not billions of dollars.) hell i'd take the money forget the respectability

    of course this is all from memory of those documentaries. don't have time to google it all for the orginal documents and i don't turst wiki

    or i could be a M.I.6 agent working with the C.I.A to reflect the bad press.

    oh on the whole server thing 8.5 servers isn't brilliant but it;'s not bad we currently have 7 racks at about 50 servers so that's 7 per rack that's not including spam devices switches routers etc. we moving to blades soon so will can some racks so hopefully it'll get better the real issue is POWER we use shed loads of it thats the reason we going to blades and virutal server

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