Microsoft Creating a Datacenter under the Ocean!

Microsoft Creating a Datacenter under the Ocean!


After a lot of interesting experiments by various companies to locate datacenters at odd places to get some additional advantages, Microsoft is now locating a data center under the sea. Experiments are on using prototype vessel, Leona Philpot (named after popular Xbox game character) was tested from August to November 2015, on the seafloor approximately one kilometer off the US Pacific coast.

Microsoft Creating a Datacenter under the Ocean! #Computing #CloudComputing Click To Tweet
The Natick Team: Eric Peterson, Spencer Fowers, Norm Whitaker, Ben Cutler, Jeff Kramer Courtesy - Natick Research\Microsoft

The Natick Team: Eric Peterson, Spencer Fowers, Norm Whitaker, Ben Cutler, Jeff Kramer Courtesy – Natick Research\Microsoft

It is still early days for the whole experiment, but Microsoft is willing to make investments for the benefits it perceives from it. Why this Natick research? This is what the company says:

Project Natick is focused on a cloud future that can help better serve customers in areas which are near large bodies of water (where nearly 50% of society resides). The vision of operating containerized datacenters offshore near major population centers anticipates a highly interactive future requiring data resources located close to users. Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.

And the benefits to the customers:

Rapid provisioning: Ability to deploy a datacenter from start to finish in 90 days.
Enables rapid response to market demand, quick deployment for natural disasters and special events such as World Cup.

Latency: Latency is how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination. Half of the world’s population lives within 200 km of the ocean so placing datacenters offshore increases the proximity of the datacenter to the population dramatically reducing latency and providing better responsiveness.

One of the issues with the datacenters has been the heat generation and how that can lead to servers crashing.  Putting the data center under sea could help Microsoft counter the heat issue and also the need to generate electricity.  They could use tidal energy.

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The impact on the sea life and ecological effect could be a concern.  But the company is confident it can handle that.

On community forums, some users questioned whether an undersea data center could have an environmental impact, including the heating up of the water around the data center. But Microsoft claimed on its website that the project envisages the use of data centers that would be totally recycled and would also have zero emissions, when located along with offshore renewable energy sources.

“No waste products, whether due to the power generation, computers, or human maintainers are emitted into the environment,” it said, pointing out that the data center does not consume water for cooling or any other purpose. “During our deployment of the Leona Philpot vessel, sea life in the local vicinity quickly adapted to the presence of the vessel,” it added.


Here is a video from the company on the whole research.



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