Story image

Microsoft takes the cloud data center to the ocean depths

02 Feb 16

Microsoft is evaluating underwater data centers, powered by renewable ocean energy, as a form of rapidly deployable, low latency, energy efficient data centers.

The company says its vision of operating containerised data centers offshore near major population centers ‘anticipates a highly interactive future requiring data resources located close ot users’.

“Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, renewable power sources and a controlled environment,” Microsoft says.

Microsoft says the data centers would be able to be deployed in 90 days and, with half of the world’s population living within 200km of the ocean, placing data centers offshore would increase the proximity of the data center to the population, dramatically reducing latency and providing better responsiveness.

The company says it aims to create a sustainable data center, leveraging locally produced green energy and ‘truly zero emission’. The data centers themselves are expected to be fully recycled – made from recycled materials which in turn is recycled at the end of its life as a data center.

Microsoft deployed the Leona Philpot experimental prototype system off the Californian coast last year in a three month deployment, which Microsoft says was ‘very successful’.

The company claims the deployment had no impact on sea life in the area.

Eric Peterson, mechanical architect for Project Natick, says the servers ‘are standard servers that you would find in any data center that are then modified for this particular environment.

A cooling system is attached to the outside of the server, along with control electronics that live on the outside of the rack, all then encased in a steel shell, with heat exchangers and outputs for cabling back to the surface.

Research engineer Spencer Fowers says while the project is one of Microsoft’s ‘Moonshot’ projects, which push the bounds of conventional technology, it’s not an ‘outlandish’ one.

“It is a viable product that we could make,” Fowers says.

However, the company admits it is still early days in evaluating whether the concept could be adopted by Microsoft and other cloud service providers.

HPE extends cloud-based AI tool InfoSight to servers
HPE asserts it is a big deal as the system can drive down operating costs, plug disruptive performance gaps, and free up time to allow IT staff to innovate.
Digital Realty opens new AU data centre – and announces another one
On the day that Digital Realty cut the ribbon for its new Sydney data centre, it revealed that it will soon begin developing another one.
'Public cloud is not a panacea' - 91% of IT leaders want hybrid
Nutanix research suggests cloud interoperability and app mobility outrank cost and security for primary hybrid cloud benefits.
Altaro introduces WAN-optimised replication for VMs
"WAN-optimised replication allows businesses to continue working in the case of damage to on-premise servers."
DDN part of data mining mission on Mars
DataDirect Networks (DDN) today announced that it will be playing a role in one of NASA’s most critical missions.
Opinion: Data centre management can learn from the Navy
While a nuclear submarine may seem like a completely different beast from a data centre, the similarities in how they should be managed are striking and many.
14 milestones Workday has achieved in 2018
We look into the key achievements of business software vendor Workday this year
HPE building new supercomputer with €38m price tag
It will be installed at the High Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart and will be the world's fastest for industrial production.