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Datacenter environmental safeguards

Microsoft employs various safeguards to protect against environmental threats to datacenter availability. These safeguards enable Microsoft to provide secure and available cloud platforms that are trusted by customers.

Site selection

Protecting Microsoft datacenters from environmental hazards begins with site selection. Microsoft datacenter locations undergo stringent assessment prior to selection for datacenter construction. Microsoft datacenter sites are strategically selected to minimize risk from several factors, including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In addition to minimizing environmental risk, access to low-cost energy and reliable telecommunications infrastructure are among the key factors that influence datacenter site selection.

Climate control

Climate control is a fundamental component of the critical infrastructure within a datacenter and is utilized to monitor and maintain optimized conditioned spaces for both staff and equipment/hardware. Heat-load (as a biproduct of energy consumption) and humidity need to be managed to ensure suitable operational conditions through mechanical intervention. Local climate conditions, various regulatory requirements, and constraints will dictate the most efficient way for it to be achieved.

Temperature and humidity levels are maintained in accordance with the environmental requirements of the IT hardware that is expected in each datacenter. Microsoft datacenters maintain an operating level agreement with their customers such that optimal efficiency is met while maintaining minimum environmental requirements. The temperature and humidity levels are monitored continuously by the datacenter's Building Management System (BMS). Critical Environments (CE) team members monitor the BMS from the Facilities Operations Center (FOC), so that they can manage the temperature and humidity within the datacenter before any alarm points are exceeded. BMS is configured to notify the CE team when certain markers are reached, who then investigate and make adjustments to remediate the climate issue. Acceptable ranges for temperature and humidity are consistent with American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines or similar locally applicable guidelines. Datacenter humidity is measured by Relative Humidity percentage, Non-Condensing with the current range between 40%-55%. Temperature range is typically between 18 degrees Celsius and 27 degrees Celsius (between 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Fire and water damage protection

Microsoft employs state-of-the-art fire detection and suppression systems within each datacenter facility. Fire prevention systems are supported by an independent energy source to ensure protection of Microsoft employees and infrastructure if there is a fire. Datacenter facilities are also protected from water damage by water sensors placed in areas deemed to have leakage risk. These water sensors quickly notify appropriate personnel if there is a water-related emergency. Water shutoff valves are designed to be accessible, and employees are trained in their operation and location.

Microsoft datacenters implement robust fire detection mechanisms including photoelectric smoke detectors installed below the floor and on the ceiling, Xtralis Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) systems in each colocation, pull station fire alarm boxes installed throughout the datacenters, fire extinguishers located throughout the datacenters, security staff patrols in all building areas multiple times every eight-hour shift, and fire detection/suppression and emergency lighting systems are wired into the datacenter backup power systems providing a redundant power source. Areas containing sensitive electrical equipment are protected by double interlock pre-action (dry pipe) sprinkler systems.

The CE team does a daily site walk-through (DSWT) to check each room and many component parts within them to ensure all fire watch requirements are being met.

Microsoft employs fire detection devices/systems for the information system that activate automatically and notify datacenter personnel along with emergency responders if a fire occurs. If one of the fire detection mechanisms is activated in any colocation space, the local fire department and the Global Security Operations Center in Redmond, Washington are automatically notified. Fire protection and detection systems are tied into the security system notifying the local facility and security staff.

Microsoft provides water/leak detection in areas with a risk of water leakage. Fire suppression systems also have leak detection alarms that are monitored. The water/leak detection system is integrated with the facility alarm and notification system, and sprinkler systems within the datacenters are zoned. The CE and Datacenter Management teams are familiar with the emergency procedures requiring the use of the water shutoff valves and their locations. Sprinkler risers can be shut off individually or as a group via gate valves. All sprinklers in the critical space are double interlock pre-action type sprinklers that require two forms of activation before flow is initiated. The pressure of the sprinkler system is monitored and alarmed against water leakage.

Health and safety

The commitment to the health and safety of Microsoft employees is fundamental to how success is measured. Microsoft datacenters operate in accordance with local, regional, national, and federal health and safety regulations. In most cases, Microsoft health and safety policies exceed government and regulatory requirements to ensure protection of the health, safety, and wellbeing of all datacenter workers during all phases of the datacenter lifecycle, from construction to decommissioning. Safety management plans, risk assessment, high-risk activity management, and safety training are central tenets to providing a safe work environment for all employees.

Energy efficiency

Microsoft has operated carbon neutral since 2012. By 2030, Microsoft will be carbon negative and by 2050, Microsoft will have removed from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. By 2025, Microsoft datacenters will be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. To accomplish this goal, Microsoft has implemented contracting tools such as proxy generation power purchase agreements for green energy to supply 100 percent of the carbon-emitting electricity consumed by all datacenters.