The Clouds are Building in Iowa

It's been known for some time that Iowa was full of corn, pigs, soybeans, etc, but now it's starting to become known for data centers. More interestingly, cloud computing data centers.

It's been known for some time that Iowa was full of corn, pigs, soybeans, etc, but now it's starting to become known for data centers.  More interestingly, cloud computing data centers.  With cheap electricity (of which 8% of that is wind generated) and lots of land, both Google and Microsoft are building large data centers in the state.  Google is buliding out their large DC in Council Bluffs, and Microsoft is putting their's somewhere in the Des Moines area, although we don't know where yet, but my guess will be somewhere south or west.  My assumption here will be that MSFT will buy enough land so that they can build their own wind farm, putting their new datacenter on their own power grid.  Google (my assumption here again) is doing the same thing.  They purchased additional acres south of Council Bluffs, and my guess is to build a wind farm to power their server farm.  

So besides the cheap electricity, "huge tracts of land" (said in my best Monty Python accent), what else makes a multi-billion dollar company build infrastructure here?  You guessed, TAX BREAKS.  The State of Iowa has always given large manufacturing companies incredible tax breaks, like not paying sales taxes on the equipment they use to build and run their facilities or on the electricity that powers them.  How cool is that?  So the State reworked it's tax code for Google last year in order to help them locate here, so the flood gates are open and to use an old cliche of my grandmothers; "Katie bar the door".

About two days after Microsoft revealed it's "Softwware+Services" model, they announced they would be building a DC here in Iowa.  Well even my two year old daughter can add that up.  Microsoft is building out a cloud infrastructure in my backyard (metaphorically speaking) and others are starting to take notice.  I was recently working with a client on this very same subject.  They are a telecom provider here in the state and we all know that that business model doesn't change very often.  So I was the advocate of "radical innovation" and telling them that they needed to look at their antiquated business model and see the future.  They got it...and so here we go.  Other telecom providers in this state wil, I'm sure, start putting plans together to do the very same thing.

Here are some interesting facts about Iowa and how cheap it is to run data centers here:  Iowa ranked favorably in a 2008 survey by consulting company Boyd that compared the cost of operating data centers in 45 different U.S. cities. Of the 10 least expensive cities to operate, three of them -- Council Bluffs, Ames, and Des Moines -- are in Iowa. The survey puts the annual operating costs of a newly constructed 125,000-square-foot data center with 125 employees at about $12 million in Iowa compared with $23 million in San Francisco and, at the top of the list, $28 million in New York.

I'll be anxious to see how things come together and see what the finished product looks like.  Stay tuned..

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Wow! Thanks for that info Michael. Nice facts about Iowa.

It's not in Iowa, but since we are on the subject of building out the cloud, IBM Unveils Plans for $360 Million Data Center in RTP to invest in non-other than Cloud Computing.

I sent this to Brian last week, thought it was interesting.



What are clouds really? Aren't they more about management and methodology, improved manageability, connectivity, flexibility, availability, etc? Clouds could be internal and external. Customers will eventually manage their internal networks as 'clouds'.

Maybe an article on cloud computing and a bit of insightful background (sans the rhetoric) would be helpful.


Well yesterday Microsoft announced officially that they will be building a "next generation" data center in West Des Moines.  There was no mention of a wind farm but lets give that speculation time to mature.  This is going to be a $500 million dollar facility built around its Software+Services model (cloud).  They are going to need about 50 -75 people and will pay an average annual salary of $70K/year.  Now here in Des Moines, that's a great salary.

Microsoft said that "West Des Moines offered "rich access" to fiber optics networks, power, water and high-tech workers, some of the 35 criteria Microsoft considers when deciding where to locate its data centers."  They say that this facility will not need as much power or cooling.  I'll be keeping my eye on this to see how this all comes together.  They say that this facility will be ready in about 12 to 18 months.


Good info. I think this is a great opportunity for West Des Moines to stretch its boundaries.

Can't wait to see the MICROSOFT Data Center and the AVIVA getting functional in the West Des Moines. Lot of benefits to the home buyers in that area, eventually.