Microsoft's new data center in West Des Moines, Iowa is a feat of technical engineering. From the outside it is a fairly nondescript location, but its innards are bursting with mind bending statistics. However, even as a plain looking building the center is massive achievement for Microsoft.
Indeed, the complex covers some 200 acres. In perspective that is just one of three datacenters located in Iowa that Microsoft has built. Also for clear perspective, Vatican City (a bona fide country) is only 110 acres.
Iowa is largely a good place to build a network of data centers. It is mostly free from the major climate events that plague the U.S., earthquakes for example. However, it does sit in a state that is at risk from tornados.
To offset the potential of tornado damage knocking out a data center, Microsoft decided to build three separate locations. Two have already been build, in 2008 (Mountain) and 2014 (Alluvion), and the third will bring Microsoft's total investment in the area to $3.5 billion. That is a significant economic stimulus for Iowa, which explains why the government has opened its arms to Microsoft.
The latest center is known as Project Osmium and will bring the total square footage to 3.2 million across the three locations. The new location will not be completed until 2022 and will be constructed through four phases.
For bringing jobs and investment to Iowa, Microsoft is getting a number of incentives in return. Firstly, the company will get a refund on sales tax paid for construction materials. There is no property tax break in place.