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Microsoft Plans $1 Billion Server Farm In Iowa 86

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-of-ethanol-to-go-around dept.
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Microsoft will invest $1.1 billion to build a massive new server farm in Iowa, not far from an existing data center in West Des Moines. The 1.2 million square foot campus will be one of the biggest in the history of the data center industry. It further enhances Iowa's status as the data center capital of the Midwest, with Google and Facebook also operating huge server farms in the state."
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Microsoft Plans $1 Billion Server Farm In Iowa

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2014 @06:01AM (#46793819)
    you can grow servers from seed. Does Monsanto know about this???
  • Windows 9.1 Update?
  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @06:03AM (#46793827)
    Makes sense, it saves about $38 million in taxes which you guys are going to have to cough up instead of Microsoft.
    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @09:04AM (#46794153)

      All states do this. To attract big projects each state offers lower taxes for a period of time, free or discounted utilities, temporary changes to regulation etc... Whomever makes the best offer gets the facility. The state will collect far more than $38 million from the people that work there's income taxes alone. Not that the state/city can't make mistakes if they're stupid... but this deal isn't bad for the state at all.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @10:35AM (#46794459) Journal

        The state will collect far more than $38 million from the people that work there's income taxes alone.

        Microsoft will create 84 jobs when fully built out, with 66 of those jobs required to have a wage of $24.32 an hour.

        $24 an hour is ~$40,000 after federal taxes and social security.
        According to my math, at Iowa's 6.8% tax rate, it'll only take ~208 years to recoup $38 million in personal income taxes.

        Those other 18 jobs are undoubtedly for security guards and janitorial staff, at an even lower wage.
        So don't count on that to noticeably bump up the average.

        TLDR: Microsoft is getting a lot of tax breaks and subsidies in return for bupkiss.

      • Your math skills need considerable upgrade. Making conservative estimates (ignoring deductions, using the unmarried tax rates, etc), a $60K job pays $3700 per year in Iowa state income tax. 84 of those amounts to $310,800 per year. 10 years brings $3,108,000 to the state. In 100 years, the state will not recoup the $38 million in taxes from worker income taxes alone.

        Math is more informative than off-the-cuff assertions. Embrace it.
        • Math is more informative than off-the-cuff assertions. Embrace it.

          Mod parent up! The entire post is solid, but this quote is solid gold on top of that!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm self-employed. Because of higher taxes (I live in Quebec, where the government is finding new ways to tax people every year), gas price and a higher cost of living in general, I had to raise my hourly rate in order to have the same standard of living. So when you think about it, it means it's not me who is paying my taxes, but "you guys".

      You think big corporations are different? You think they pay their taxes out of their pockets?

      • by mrbcs (737902)
        You have my sympathies for having the misfortune of living in the highest taxed jurisdiction in Canada.
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      Many taxpayer billions go into Iowa farms that don't grow servers.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Plenty of local economic activity (such as constructing the facility) will happen and generate tax revenues.

      Locations which want business must compete, for they are essentially businesses themselves.

      The option not to compete exists. Good luck with that.

  • Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dollars are a measure of importance. If such an encrusted Pi were actually constructed, it would indeed be newsworthy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

      Yes, it could. And if such a Raspberry Pi would exist, much like the data center designs of the largest providers in the world, you would know very little about it for security reasons.

      Besides, what's the point? You would geek out over it for about five fucking minutes until the Next Big Thing comes along and makes This Big Thing look like shit by comparison.

      This isn't about technical details. This is about one-upmanship between billionaires. That was obvious when I read "biggest in the history". That

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Why is the price tag more important than the technical details? A diamond and gold encrusted Raspberry Pi in a large warehouse could cost 2.2 billion...

        Yes, it could. And if such a Raspberry Pi would exist, much like the data center designs of the largest providers in the world, you would know very little about it for security reasons.

        The price tag is more important in this case because it probably *does* reflect the scale and possible power of the project. It's not likely to be being expensive for the sake of being expensive

        The hypothetical Raspberry Pi isn't a good comparison, since it was contrived for the sake of being expensive and none of that expense has much effect on the core function. Real-world examples of such devices- i.e. much, *much* cheaper devices with masses of expensive trim glued on (such as "the world's first Arab [slashdot.org]

  • But what about Detroit?!?!

    There was an article earlier about it on Slashdot and everything?!?

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe they want to keep their servers from ending up in the local pawn shop...
  • by swb (14022) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @06:54AM (#46793907)

    Are they going to run it off any alternative power sources?

    I could see a pig shit methane plant, Iowa produces 1/4 of all pork in the US.

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @07:51AM (#46793997)

      Are they going to run it off any alternative power sources?

      I could see a pig shit methane plant, Iowa produces 1/4 of all pork in the US.

      Microsoft converted a long time ago. Unfortunately, they suffered a methane meltdown sometime around 2012 that contaminated their production floor.

      I'm rather surprised you didn't catch a whiff of this while running Windows 8...

    • by haruchai (17472)

      And a lot of wind - currently closing in on 30% of electricity generation.

    • by Xipher (868293)

      There are a few wind power farms in Iowa.

  • Yeah (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    there's huge demand for NSA run hosting facilities worldwide.

  • Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirwired (27582) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @07:04AM (#46793919)

    It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this. They persist in visions of row upon row of cubicles filled with hard-working, high-paid, tax-paying programmers. When, in fact, after construction, the total payroll is little different from a simple warehouse or small wholesale distro center that they would never consider paying any incentives to attract. The data center might have a half-dozen or so skilled tech workers, if that, and the rest of the staff are going to be low-paid parts-swapping monkeys. The "real" work will all be done remotely. If you have a limited incentives budget, why spend it on a data center?

    Moreover, unless the community is blessed with a large amount of "spare" power (like areas with oversized nuc plants or the cheap hydro in the Northwest) all that grid capacity going into a power-hungry, job-poor, data center could be better spent on other projects.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What's interesting is how many northern areas, with an excess of cold and an excess of power, don't try to attract at least some capacity from the big data center players. Some governments and energy companies are smart about this. And some are just downright dumb.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      The incentives are in the form of tax breaks. A big data center like this will still generate some tax dollars and add to the local economy - enough to cover the additional expenses. The rest is just funny money, tax revenues they wouldn't have collected without the project, so no loss.
    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this.

      Because they can point to a single structure and say "I helped make this happen." Even if it's a losing proposition most voters will still feel that at least the politician is doing something. It's a lot harder to keep tax laws equal for all and point to the gains which get spread around to everybody and in a re-election campaign say that the small growth everyone is realizing is due to your policies.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It's hard to understand why, after all these years, local and state governments STILL haven't figured out why it's pointless to spend one thin dime of tax incentives on projects like this.

      That's easy.
      Nobody ever does a ROI study.
      Not after 1 year, after 3 years, or after 5 years.

      The States/Counties take the puffed up corporate predictions at face value and then nobody checks to see that the promised value (but not in any legal binding way) is actually created.

      • So far, the announcements of data center projects I've seen seem to be pretty realistic estimates of the job count and average salary of the workers. It's like the officials hear the word "Microsoft" "Google" "Apple" "Amazon", etc., and shut down all critical thinking skills.

        Reminds me of driving down I-81 in rural VA and driving past a sign announcing the "Southwest VA Technology Corridor" or somesuch, just as I entered a cell phone dead zone. Commerce dept. types seem to think that the mere presence of

  • by jamesl (106902) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @07:09AM (#46793929)

    Oh, the corn. Think of the corn. Children will starve in Des Moines.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday April 19, 2014 @07:31AM (#46793971) Homepage

    The project Alluvion site is approximately 8 miles east from the current Microsoft data center in West Des Moines

    8 miles is not far. It is not too hard to envisage a disaster that could affect both sites at once. For starters: Iowa is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. They are close enough that power supplies and Internet connections will be 'related'. OK: it makes it easier for staff to visit both sites, but 80 miles seems to me safer than 8.

    • Would it not be simpler to consider both facility's as one as far as DR planning goes? Assuming they do not do anything that requires sync replicated SAN's (distance limited due to max latency) you want a DR facility in another time zone.and or growing zone.

      • Time zone I understand. Growing zone is a little harder.

        So it's really a server farm?

        • Lat and/or longitudinal difference. So a DC in NYC might have a DR site in FL but the preference would be LA all other things being equal.

    • by acoustix (123925)

      For starters: Iowa is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley.

      Iowa isn't in the original tornado alley and is on the border of the new tornado alley. Iowa has never been "smack in the middle" of it.

    • The project Alluvion site is approximately 8 miles east from the current Microsoft data center in West Des Moines

      8 miles is not far. It is not too hard to envisage a disaster that could affect both sites at once.

      This is an excellent point. I recommend they move the second site to Google, Kansas.

  • Lots of cheap land, central location between Chicago and NYC, and cold weather in the winter to help with cooling. And when I think about, the original infrastructure was built out to support heavy industry. There is probably excess power transmission capacity.

  • Might this have anything to do with those supposed leaks about Windows 9 and 10 being increasingly cloud-based?
  • "Me, I'm a third generation server farmer. My pappy's pappy started this farm way back in 2014. Then my pappy took over, and now here I am today." As the old sys admin slowly rocked in his office chair, a single orange strand of wire from a cat 5 cable hanging out of his mouth. "Ol'rack 314b has a bad sector, son, today I need you to go take it down. She's been a good server, but it's time you showed me you can take over this farm one day too..."

  • Does it run Linux?

  • the servers run Linux? If not I'm not interested.

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