Microsoft IT Introduction - Modernizing our Datacenter

What is Microsoft IT?



We support the IT infrastructure and applications that run the business of Microsoft. We are a consumer of the Microsoft products and services while being a separate entity from the divisions that create and manage those services. We strive to be our own first and best customer, deploying and testing products and services internally, before they are released to our customers.


Microsoft IT is a broad organization with employees located all over the globe. For this blog series, we are going to focus on a specific team within IT, Service Deployment and Operations (SDO). SDO operates the hosting and support services for IT. This scope includes more than 40,000 operating system instances that host the applications and services that our employees and external partners use to manage their business. Internal examples are human resources applications, financial applications, and training systems. Externally, it's the back-end systems powering consumer applications that are used by our end-user customers. These operating system instances are spread over seven datacenters globally to provide reliable operation for our users. 


SDO is similar to most large infrastructure teams, facing many of the same challenges. There are two primary challenges we are facing today:

  • The closure of two datacenters, leased locations being decommissioned for multiple reasons
  • Thousands of servers reaching end of life (EOL), with replacement requiring $200 million over the next five years


How do we tackle those challenges, and more importantly, how do we modernize our computing infrastructure environment? Our clients are demanding agility, our budgets are flat, and we want to drive efficiency in the infrastructure. There are two groups within an IT organization that are critical to transforming our datacenter environment; infrastructure owners and application owners. On their own, each can make strides toward optimizing the IT environment, but only together can they truly get the most out of datacenter modernization. 


We started with a vision: “All of Microsoft runs in the cloud.” Microsoft IT has adopted a cloud-first approach to applications and workloads, which supports the vision. We have been using Microsoft Azure as the default infrastructure for new applications and workloads to further this cloud strategy. In addition to implementing this policy for new applications and workloads, we continue to extend the cloud-first vision by assessing existing infrastructure for cloud migration. These efforts will help us meet the challenges of EOL and closure of physical datacenters.


From that vision, we created an application strategy.

  • The application and workload strategy is fairly simple:
  • Commodity workloads will move to software as a service (SaaS).

  • New development and modern applications will move to platform as a service (PaaS).

  • Existing applications will move to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or remain in a private cloud.


Our datacenter strategy is focused on consolidation and efficiency. As mentioned, we are closing two of our datacenters over the next 24 months. This will result in a significant migration velocity to Azure and balancing load across remaining locations.


  • Aligning with Azure locations for performance optimization

  • Actively migrating workloads to Azure virtual machines

  • Consolidating standards


When we apply this strategy to the overall infrastructure environment, we see steady progress toward and Azure and an optimized private cloud over the next several years.



This is the broad transformation we are currently approaching in Microsoft IT. In future posts, we'll go deeper into how we are making this a reality. Stay tuned.