RISE UP/GEAR UP

Seattle, new center of a tech boom

new_york_times_logoSEATTLE — From his ninth-floor office in downtown Seattle, Hewlett-Packard’s cloud computing outpost, Bill Hilf can see the Space Needle, the Pike Street Market and the future of computing.

“(Seattle) is like Detroit used to be for car companies,” he said. “The galactic players are here, and they are creating lots of little companies. The only thing driving anyone away from here is the weather.”

Rain or shine, Seattle has quickly become the center of the most intensive engineering in cloud computing: the design and management of global-scale data centers. Last year, Mr. Hilf was hired from Microsoft’s giant cloud business, Azure, to spearhead HP’s efforts to build its own cloud service (based in Seattle, not at HP’s home in Silicon Valley), and build technology for other cloud companies.

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