Microsoft Just Dumped a Data Center Into the Ocean

Spencer Fowers senior member of technical staff for Microsoft’s special projects research group prepares Project Natick’s Northern Isles datacenter for deployment off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland

Microsoft’s effort to build underwater datacenter reaches next phase

Now, the Project Natick team will monitor the data centre for the next five years.

If the project proves to be a success, Microsoft hopes to sink more data centers near coastal cities - with the ultimate goal of getting the centers operational within 90 days of the decision to deploy.

Engineers slide racks of Microsoft servers and associated cooling system infrastructure into Project Natick's Northern Isles datacenter at a Naval Group facility in Brest, France. The company says that almost 50% of the world population lives near the coast so why shouldn't our data be there. The experiment is part of Project Natick, which has been studying the concept for a number of years.

By plunging data centres in bodies of water near coastal cities, data would have short distances to travel to reach coastal communities. If by submerging a data center in the sea it keeps them cooler than having them in a land-based warehouse, it means less energy will be required to keep the data centers cool, reducing their ecological impact.

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This Davy Jones' data centre is the result of a year's worth of research into environmentally sustainable data storage technology that Redmond hopes could one day be ordered to size, rapidly deployed and left to operate at the bottom of the sea for years.

Oceans also provide consistent cool temperatures which is essential for a data center to run well, cooling down data centers is what costs its operator (and the environment) heavily, so removing that cost makes sense too.

"Our vessel is powered by a combination of solar power, wind power, and offshore tidal and wave energy", says Ben Cutler, the project's manager.

In phase two, which kicks off today, the company has fit 864 servers on 12 racks in a sealed submersible that's about the size of a standard 40-foot-long shipping container; it's created to function for five years without requiring any maintenance.

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In a bid to save the planet while making some money, Microsoft just drowned one of its data centers at sea.

Keeping this in mind, Microsoft has designed the pod in a manner which wouldn't require maintenance for up to five years.

Microsoft said the most challenging task was lowering the data center and cable 117 feet to the rock slab floor - an effort that took 10 winches, a crane, a gantry barge and a remotely operated vehicle.

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