February 2, 2016
Microsoft is likely to provide a lasting solution to many of its customers through the ongoing tests of an underwater data centre. Since about half of the world’s population resides within 200 kilometers from the ocean, the company believes operating a data centre from the ocean floor will avail data cable to users within the shortest time possible. If Microsoft accomplishes its mission in the near future, the world of data centre technology will take a new shape.
However, the Project Natick was publicly announced recently through the company’s website. Theoretically, it is geared towards simplifying data centre deployment process, cutting cooling costs, minimizing technical-maintenance expenses, and reducing emissions. The site’s post said that the location of the data centre offer credible cooling effects, even though the system is not utilizing the water directly for cooling purposes. According to research players, every data centre is designed to operate at 5-year cycles for a period of 20 years before they are retrieved and packed with new computers.
The project, which has been a four-month plan, was first launched successfully between August and November last year, where Microsoft deployed the initial prototype vessel about 1 kilometer off the US West Coast. The Leona Philpot submarine vessel, named after the popular video game franchise ‘Halo’, was enclosed in a steel capsule and contained a single server rack that was bounded by pressurized nitrogen to control heat within its components. Actually, the project was an attempt to find out the benefits and challenges that are likely to be encountered while deploying submerged data centres.
According to company’s post, the groundwork results obtained from the experimental data analysis showed significant potential of a viable technology that can enhance its sales output. The project indicates the effort by Microsoft to bring about efficient and reliable cloud data centre solutions, as well as achieving sustainable production processes. Interestingly, the recyclable materials used to build the data centres reflect a future technology that is environmentally friendly.
Project Natick promises a number of benefits including the ease of building and deploying the vessel, which was quoted to be at-most 90 days. Alongside better efficiency for users that need to access their data from different locations, the underwater data centre initiative takes into consideration the wellbeing of aquatic life. Based on the preliminary results, sea animals and plants were able to cope fast with the vessel’s presence.
Though the project is still at very early stages, various appraisals and assessments are in progress to weigh up if the idea can turn into a practicable conception. If it could be adopted by Microsoft, this is a clear reflection that other cloud service providers would follow suit.
Plans for the next stage of Project Natick are currently underway, according to Microsoft. The ploy intends to incorporate a larger shell with more advanced servers than the initial one.