Established: July 12, 1999

Building an automated operating system for large-scale data centers hosting third party applications.

The BIG project looked at the problem of completely automating the deployment and operations of hosted applications in large-scale data centers.  One grand challenge for BIG was to answer the question: “How do I take data center with 100,000 servers and turn it into a running instance of a internet-scale service like HotMail (and keep it running) without a human touching the servers or networking equipment?”

The BIG project started in Microsoft Research in late summer 1999 and moved to the Windows Server Division in fall 2001.  Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative, the Dynamic Data Center, and the System Definition Model all came out of ideas started by the BIG project.