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Will data centres be taking to the water next year?

26 Nov 2015

A United States company has successfully launched an energy efficient waterborne data centre prototype, with construction on its first commercial offering now underway.

Nautilus Data Technologies says the Waterborne Data Center will enable enterprises to ‘dramatically’ reduce the cost of computing by providing the industry’s best-in-class power usage effectiveness (PUE), while operating the most environmentally sustainable data centre on the market.

The floating data centres can offer hosting, colocation and cloud services for primary computing needs, business continuity and disaster recovery.

The first commercial waterborne data centre is currently being built at a Northern California naval shipyard and is expected to be deployed at a secure port next year.

Nautilus says the prototype demonstrated a 30% decrease in energy consumption and operating costs compared to land-based facilities, with even greater water savings, with Nautilus’ proprietary technology consuming no water.

Instead the data centres utilise the naturally cooled water below the barge to reduce temperate within the facility, with water recycled and returned directly back to the water it originated from resulting in ‘virtually’ no water loss.

Arnold Magcale, Nautilus Data Technologies chief executive and co-founder, says the proof of concept exceeded all expectations.

“Our innovations are the most significant data centre advances in decades, marking a revolutionary change in the data centre industry,” Magcale claims.

Nautilus isn’t the first company to float (yes, pun intended) the idea of waterborne data centres. Google patented an idea for a ‘water-based data centre’ back in 2009, and prompted a flurry of speculation when it began building a structure on a barge off San Francisco’s Treasure Island.

Google’s patent described a system including ‘a floating platform-mounted computer data centre comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units’.

The San Francisco barges – and several others built by Google – turned out to be nothing more than technology showrooms – which disappeared following fire safety concerns.

Meanwhile, Nautilus, which launched in 2013 with US$25 million in initial investment, says traditional data centre models, with high power usage and carbon emissions, are unsustainable.

“With its proprietary infrastructure, and its complete suite of cloud and predictive data centre infrastructure management technologies, Nautilus will help its customers reduce both their data centre expenses and carbon footprints,” the company says.

It’s claiming annual savings in electricity costs of more than $4 million, compared to current technology, with carbon dioxide emission reductions of 19,000 tons per year – the equivalent of taking 3600 cars off the road.

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