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AOL has built and deployed its first Micro Data Center at its campus in Dulles, Virginia, the company’s senior VP of operations Michael Manos announced in a blog post.

Manos did not provide details of the design, saying only that the custom-designed high-density box included servers, networking and storage. The basic idea behind the project was to create a data center that did not require a building, could be deployed anywhere and needed minimal or no staff, he wrote.

“The inherent flexibility of the design allows us a greater number of places around the planet we can deploy capacity to,” Manos wrote. “We are no longer tied to traditional data center facilities or colocation markets.”

This does not mean AOL will stop using traditional data centers, he clarified. It means the company now has another infrastructure option.

The Micro Data Center is meant to be part of the infrastructure hosting AOL’s internally developed cloud environment and will help make this environment highly distributed geographically.

This will allow the company to quickly launch new products in new markets. Manos calls the capability “community in a box.”

Manos said the technology was a game changer in terms of upfront and operational cost as well. The Micro Data Center strategy will allow AOL to have five times the amount of data center capacity at less than 10% of the cost and physical footprint of deploying traditional data center capacity, he wrote.

These savings are possible because the box is highly dense (in terms of compute capacity), and because it does away or dramatically reduces costs like facility lease, depreciation, maintenance, support staff, etc.

“It ultimately drives us to a very low operational cost structure for delivering our products and services,” Manos wrote.

A lot of the work that went into creating the Micro Data Center built on technology developed for AOL’s fully automated data center that hosts primary infrastructure for the company’s cloud. Called ATC, the data center is a 100% lights-out facility, Manos wrote when he announced its launch in October 2011.

In March, AOL’s operations team was recognized by the Uptime Institute for participation in the Institute’s server round-up competition, where companies competed to take the biggest amount of underutilized IT equipment offline. AOL decommissioned about 9,500 servers as part of this effort, which represented a 26% turnover in the company’s server assets.

AOL spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.