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TWIH: Microsoft, HP put heads in cloud

Microsoft has publicly outlined its vision for container-powered cloud services with CEO Steve Ballmer giving the technology his blessing, saying that “when it comes to cloud technology, we are all in.” Poker analogies aside, Microsoft’s plan to change the technology its data centers are built on is both impressive and forward-thinking.

With a focus on their latest container prototype, dubbed IT-PAC (with the PAC standing for pre-assembled component), the Windows-maker plans to build its next data center around the new technology, bringing to life the powerful energy-efficient container concept and offering their end-users premium but inexpensive cloud services as a result.

The search for a location for Microsoft’s latest data center continues as the company works to refine IT-PAC; a coinciding advertisement campaign, expected to focus primarily on cloud-based services for end-users, will launch soon.

Also sticking their heads in the cloud is HP Labs, which announced the opening of a new research facility in Singapore this week. Focused on developing next-generation data center architecture and cloud-based services, HP hopes that its seventh research center will allow it to stay ahead of the growing technology curve in the IT industry.

“As a research organization, our goal at HP Labs is to address the most complex challenges facing our customers and society in the next decade. By collaborating with our long-standing customers in the Asia Pacific region, HP Labs Singapore will help extend HP’s global strategy of accelerating the pace of technology transfer from R&D into the hands of our customers.” – Chris Whitney, director of HP Labs Singapore

HP’s location choice works well given that Singapore is both the home of its Asia Pacific headquarters and many of the company’s premier business clients. With the latest Labs facility working steadily to improve Cirious, HP’s coming enterprise cloud-computing platform, close proximity to the firms expected to utilize the technology is vital, according to HP Labs director Prith Banerje.

Given the never-ending announcements of new data center and research facilities dominating the news in recent months, the results of data center operator Digital Realty Trust’s annual study of the American IT industry are particularly interesting this year according to numbers released this week.

Designed to survey the policy-makers of major U.S. data centers with the intention of learning what the future holds for the industry in general, the research revealed that the news-worthy growth is expected to continue through 2010 and beyond. 83 percent of those surveyed said that they are planning expansions in one or more data centers in the next 1-2 years with 36 percent planning expansions during 2010 and 73 percent expecting at least two more facilities to be added to their IT portfolio; a full 83 percent of those companies planning expansion in 2010 will do so with a partner that specializes in data center design or maintenance. Those numbers add up to what Digital Realty expects will be a healthy eight percent increase in data center and IT budgeting for the average American corporation.

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