By Christian Belady
Director of Hardware Architecture, Microsoft Research
Some folks have already heard that I am changing roles in Microsoft, but the reality is that just like the evolution with our data centers, my career is going through a similar evolution. And that’s the way I like it….while I love what I do, I continuously like to take on new challenges and evolve. In any case, before I dive into what I will be doing, I thought it would be great to reflect on my almost three years at Microsoft.
When I first hired into Microsoft, the company had already recognized the need for monitoring and measuring (using our SCRY technology) to improve operational efficiency in our data centers. They had already adopted my beloved PUE metric and tracked it daily in all of its data centers, so I knew Microsoft was a progressive company and a place I wanted to be. While Microsoft was already driving improvements in efficiency as a result of this, many in our industry were still in a “wait and see” mode. The satisfying thing is that in less than three years the industry has pretty much accepted that efficiency and PUE are pretty much a universal best practice and metric to adopt. Also, that monitoring and measurement is a key enabler to drive the right behavior. I have to believe that Microsoft and our data center services team played a role in making that happen with the effort we all spent on evangelizing the cause. We have invested our time in supporting the EU Code of Conduct, The Green Grid, Climate Savers, EPA Energy Star for data centers program, and many other industry organizations that have followed suit in adopting common efficiency metrics and approaches. We all should feel pretty good about that. Now looking inside of Microsoft, I feel proud of what we as a team accomplished since I joined…you can argue that our data center strategy during this period is likely the most dynamic seen in the industry to date; the most memorable examples (for me) are the container computing scale approach in Chicago, server PODs and air side economization in Dublin, our Gen 4 vision, and perhaps even our “tent city” experiment to demonstrate extreme economization. In my mind these were all game changers and showed that there is much room for innovation in an industry where change has historically been rather slow.
But even with all of this change, I see there is even more opportunity now then there was when I started at Microsoft almost three years ago. Cloud computing has made mining and developing the “right” opportunities even that much more important. We need to think about how we tie together the complete ecosystem of the software stack, the IT, the data center and the grid today and what efficiencies we can drive from our research and development for the future. For those of you that know me – this is the kind of opportunity that makes me salivate. There aren’t many people around tasked with this kind of challenge and this is the opportunity I have been given in the evolution of my career at Microsoft. This week I begin tackling these projects within the Microsoft Research group in team called the Extreme Computing Group.
This is exciting in itself, but what really gets me “charged” is the opportunity I have now to work between my former group Global Foundation Services (that drives the current Microsoft cloud infrastructure) and my new group Microsoft Research (MSR). Taking the best practices from what we have learned with our current and future Gen 4 data centers and combining them with the resources of one of the best research organizations in the world (MSR), I am convinced that many new and exciting things will come. And best of all, I am lucky to be right smack in the middle of it and will still be working closely with the teams driving the hardware architecture for the cloud today and in the future. So actually, I am really not leaving GFS but rather extending the reach of GFS into the future. Who can ask for a better opportunity….man I love this company!