Microsoft Datacenter Operations Staffanstorp, Gävle and Sandviken
Town Hall summary
Microsoft understands the importance of listening to community members and understanding community needs where employees live and work. In September 2021, Microsoft Cloud Operations and Innovation (CO+I) held virtual town hall sessions for Gävle/Sandviken and Staffanstorp to report on collaborations and projects, answer questions from residents, and get feedback regarding our datacenter plans in these regions. Residents of Gävle/Sandviken and Staffanstorp, members of the media, and other stakeholders were invited to these two separate sessions held by local Microsoft leaders. Including Therese Treutiger, Commercial Partner and Innovation Lead at Microsoft Sweden, Patrik Öhlund, EMEA Energy and Sustainability Lead at Microsoft, Andreas Wingren, Communications Manager at Microsoft Sweden, and Richard Ryan, Sweden Datacenter Community Development Manager.
The town hall agenda included:
- Community updates for Gävle/Sandviken
- Community updates for Staffanstorp
- Energy and sustainability at Microsoft
- Local Microsoft initiatives, programs, and investments
- Updates from Microsoft Sweden
- Attendee questions
Gävle/Sandviken community updates
Therese Treutiger, Commercial Partner and Innovation Lead at Microsoft Sweden, spoke to updates in Gävle/Sandviken. First, traffic on Laggarbovägen has increased due to Microsoft’s presence. A new road, the Link Road, was built in 2020 between RV56 and Laggarbovägen. Permission for left turn for traffic was granted from the Swedish Transport Administration in August 2021 with the goal of controlling traffic to Farfarsvägen via Kopplingsvägen, increasing safety and reducing inconvenience to residents
The electricity substation in Öby, up near Stackbo, is being expanded and the increased traffic means that a new road will be built that directly connects Laggarbovägen with the station, called Ledningsvägen. The diversion will improve the safety of residents and reduce traffic hazards in Stackbo. Design and permitting should be complete soon, with construction occurring in 2022.
A pedestrian and cycling path between Farfarsvägen and Stackbovägen is being planned. The increased traffic increases the need to create a safer road for people not using cars. The ambition is to have a plan and call for consultation, during 2022 and build the path during 2023.
Staffanstorp community updates
Treutiger also provided updates on the Microsoft presence in Staffanstorp. The datacenter in Staffanstorp is up and running. We have started the business fully, though behind the scenes work continues, and in November 2021, we will be able to open the doors to customers. More than 60 employees work in the Staffanstorp datacenter, including datacenter technicians (who take care of servers, troubleshooting, repairing, etc.), critical environment team members (handling electricity supply, cooling, etc.), security guards, cleaners, and property management.
There have also been questions and concerns from the community related to the backup power generators that we installed. Treutiger clarified generators are only backup, and they do not generally operate the datacenters themselves. Under normal operation, 100% renewable energy is used from the grid. And as a company, Microsoft has promised that by 2030 there will be no diesel generators at any of our datacenters. However, we are constantly evaluating what new solutions are available, and how we can optimize our operations.
Energy and sustainability at Microsoft
Patrik Öhlund, EMEA Energy and Sustainability Lead at Microsoft spoke on Microsoft’s sustainability commitments. Microsoft is working to make our new datacenters in Sweden among the most sustainable in the world. During the session, we presented our overall sustainability targets, including our long-term ambition that all our datacenters should be diesel-free by 2030. We also presented our solution for 24/7 matching of renewable energy matching developed with our energy partner Vattenfall, which will ensure that our datacenters in Sweden are powered by 100 percent carbon-free energy all the time, every day of the year.
At the town hall, we also shared information about the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel from our partner Preem in our backup power generators in Sweden, another measure to minimize carbon emissions from our operations. This type of fuel is based on residue from the Swedish forest industry. We received questions about our use of renewable energy and presented facts on our forecasted energy use (which can be compared to a Swedish paper mill factory). “We take climate challenge very seriously and we are actively working to help our customers to see how they can use our digital solutions to reduce their carbon footprint while we also work to actively reduce our own carbon footprint,” explained Öhlund.
Local Microsoft initiatives, programs, and investments
Microsoft supports datacenter operations through community-focused initiatives and programs that support individuals and develop communities. Richard Ryan, Community Development Lead at Microsoft described some of the many community collaborations. Funded projects support local priorities: community inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurship, digital skills and transformation, and workforce development. Recent investments across Sweden include the ChangeX Community Fund, Rädda Barnen, Ung Företagsamhet, and Kodcentrum.
Investments in Gävle/Sandviken include Rapatac, Sandviken IF, Gefle IF, Foretagforum Sandviken, Hack 4 Gävle with Future Position X, Coding Summer Camps, Community Digital Skilling with PRO Gävle, Polhemsskolan ICT & Data Program, Sandviken Datacenter Academy Association, and Sandviken CVL.
Updates from Microsoft Sweden
Treutiger then spoke to recent trends in cloud technology and remote work. The 2021 Work Trend Index found that 73 percent of workers say they want flexible remote work options. At the same time, 67 percent of employees say they want more in-person collaboration with their teams post-pandemic. This is the hybrid paradox.
Microsoft also learned that about 80 percent of managers say they expect more flexible work from home policies post-pandemic. Microsoft platforms and the supporting datacenters can help facilitate participation in a hybrid workforce, with digital tools, collaboration platforms, and reliable networks. This will allow people to create connections and networks like never before, without sacrificing privacy and security.