Microsoft to build giant data center in Virginia

The software giant plans another giant data center, this time in Southern Virginia

Microsoft is to build another large data center, this time in Virginia, despite scaling back plans for an earlier facility in Iowa.

Microsoft will spend US$499 million to build a data center in Mecklenburg County in Southern Virginia, the state's Governor Bob McDonnell announced in a statement Friday. About 50 people will work at the facility.

McDonnell said Virginia beat out North Carolina and Texas for the deal.

The facility will be one of Microsoft's Generation 4 data centers, meaning it will be built primarily with containers filled with servers. Microsoft first described its Generation 4 data centers in 2008, saying the modular setup would allow for energy efficiency, cost savings and quick deployment.

The Governor's Opportunity Fund will provide a $2.1 million grant to "assist" the county with the project. Key to Microsoft's decision to choose Virginia were Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative's fiber network and Dominion Virginia Power's competitively priced, clean energy supply, according to McDonnell's statement.

Microsoft did not reply to a request for further details.

In 2008 Microsoft unveiled plans for a data center in Iowa that would cost $500 million to build and employ a reported 50 to 75 people with annual salaries of $70,000. In June it said it would now spend $100 million on the facility instead, and employ 25 people with average wages of $31.04 per hour.

Microsoft has other large data centers in Chicago; San Antonio, Texas; Quincy, Washington; and Dublin, Ireland. They support what Microsoft hopes will be a growing online services business, including hosted enterprise applications and its Azure cloud development platform.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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