The software tycoon Microsoft has come up with another bizarre idea of setting up subsea data centers. It has already begun an ongoing research titled Project Natick which is both cost effective and environmentally friendly. The blueprint of the concept was developed as early in 2013 by one of its employees.
It’s a digital world-one can imagine the excessive use of smartphones and internet media. In the present world, the major problem faced by tech companies like Google and Facebook is keeping their data centers cool. Mostly these companies prefer colder countries to set up servers to manage heat arising from them. It is then Microsoft thought of this innovative concept of underwater data centers. Ben Cutler, a computer designer for Microsoft says “But as you think more about it, it actually makes a lot of sense” (The New York Times)
MICROSOFT’S PROTOTYPE SERVER RAN FOR 105 DAYS
Leona Philpot, the first submarine server is set up off the coast of California. This challenging venture of Microsoft is named after a character from Halo, is a steel capsule some eight foot in diameter. It contained only a single computing rack sealed in pressurized container filled with nitrogen. Different sensors were used to monitor conditions like humidity, pressure and motion inside and outside the capsule. Also the sensors measure the capsule’s impact on its environment. Luckily, the sounds of the server’s fans will get drowned out by the noise of sea, whereas the heat it generates only affects the water a few inches around the vessel.
The company’s first prototype ran successfully for 105 days reveals Microsoft engineers. This attractive idea has its own logistical advantages. Statistics show that half of the world’s population lives within 200 kilometers off the coastal area. As such is the case, it is easier to deploy whenever extra capacity is required. Moreover, the setting up of submarine centers will only take a maximum of 90 days compared to 2 years of building a data center on land.
Even though this plan of Microsoft sounds exciting it comes with many hurdles to surpass for practical implementation. Unlike the virtual data centers which can undergo regular checkups when needed, designers have to make their underwater systems to go on without maintenance for many years. The technicians are also optimistic that in the years to come these data centers may even be able to power themselves using underwater turbines or tidal power.
Though the project is still in its initial stage, the company says the time is ripe for rethinking new data centers. As the Moore’s law states that the computing power doubles roughly every two years, Microsoft has already started its extended activities of making an underwater system much larger than Leona Philpot, precisely three times bigger. The digital world has always surprised the human race with their products and in the years to come Microsoft promises some big exciting leaps; so let’s keep our fingers crossed to be digitally amazed yet once again.