Microsoft Canada $20 million makeover

TORONTO – If you plan on making a visit to Microsoft Canada headquarters don’t be shocked if you find it vastly different than what you are accustomed to.

Besides the new striking white paint on the walls the Canadian operation is sporting a 20,000 square-foot technology centre that will feature the latest products from HP, Dell, EMC, NetApp and Intel.

At a price tag of $20 million, the Microsoft Technology Centre is the first of its kind in Canada. Microsoft has 31 other technology centres across the globe. Ross Mistry, Microsoft Canada’s National Director, Microsoft Technology Centres at Microsoft Canada, told CDN that this facility is one of the biggest that Microsoft had ever made. The plan is to produce more technology centres across Canada in cities such as Montreal, Ottawa (specific for public sector), Calgary (specific for oil and gas market) and Vancouver.

“This will be an innovation hub for Canada that will offer an immersive experience,” Mistry said

The facility took two and a half years to build and will feature a Server Display Centre, which functions as a data centre. It is equipment with the latest technology from EMC, APC, NetApp and Cisco. The raw storage in the Server Display Centre is 2 Petabytes. The networking capability can scale from 1GB Ethernet to 40GB Ethernet. The compute power comes from approximately 1,000 Core processors and it has 16 Terabytes of RAM.

Microsoft envisions solution providers using this high performance computing to develop proof of concepts for customers. Microsoft will have 10 design architects full time at the centre. But they will also be able to tap the Redmond, Wash., headquarters for more expertise.

Staci Trackey Meagher, Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft Canada, said this technology centre will make an impact in the Canadian economy from an innovation standpoint. Currently, Canada ranks 25th out of 41 nations in technology innovation. “Canada is in the middle of the road when it comes to technology innovation. The Microsoft Technology Centre will encourage channel partners to design proof of concepts. We are going to work hand-and-hand with partners to give customers an immersive experience before they purchase the solution,” she said.

The Microsoft Technology Centre will also have the first Lync Room featuring interactive white board screens from Calgary-based Smart Technologies. These rooms are conference rooms but not quite Telepresence style rooms. They will be equipped with Surface Pro devices for people to collaborate on screen with other remote locations.

There will also be a 60-inch touch screen from the Perceptive Pixel Inc. acquisition that will show spatial data.

The Architecture Design Suites will have 10 full time staff with expertise in core infrastructure, data platforms, unified communications and app platforms.

There are four development suites with hardware provided by Dell, HP and other OEM vendors such as Lenovo and Samsung.

Mistry added that spread around the facility are device bars for customers, partners even students to touch and play with.

One of the showcase areas of the Microsoft Technology Centre is the Envisioning Centre where the Microsoft technology stack can be show in several vignettes such as mobile which is a bus stop, home/remote office, corporate office and an industry area that can change from an oil & gas scenario, to retail to financial services.

There is also several proof of concept lounges where people can play Xbox Connect.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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