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Are Underwater Data Centers the Future?
Would you be com- fortable knowing your data center is located at the bot- tom of the ocean? A new concept
from Microsoft puts cloud computing down under the sea. Called Project
Natick, the prototype sat on the floor of
the Pacific for four months in the fall of
2015. It was placed in waters over a half
mile from the U.S. coast and supplied by
Server storage continues to grow
across all business sectors yet data
centers require intensive resources
to maintain their 24/7 operations.
Microsoft’s goal is to develop a solution
that is less expensive, easier to deploy
and more sustainable than land-based
One of the benefits of these marine
sites is their proximity to users.
According to Microsoft, “over half of
the world’s population lives within 200
kilometers of the sea.” With such a high
density of people within 124 miles of
the coast, locating data centers close to
end users would significantly improve
reliability. Underwater storage would
also ensure that valuable real estate is
left for other development purposes.
In addition to obvious security
benefits, the containerized units have
a controlled source of natural cooling
as water progressively becomes colder
as depth increases. While this test
project was connected to the traditional
grid, Microsoft foresees greener
configurations in the future.
“A Natick data center co-located with
offshore renewable energy sources such
as wind, wave, tide or current could be
truly zero emission: no waste products,
whether due to the power generation,
computers or human maintainers, are
emitted into the environment,” explains
the project overview.
The submerged data centers will last
up to five years, which is when new
computers need to be reloaded. The shell
is expected to last up to 20 years and will
be fully recyclable to minimize its end-of-life disposal.
MARINE DATA CENTERS have been successfully tested by Microsoft. The prototype will be an eco-friendly way to serve users as the majority of the world’s population is concentrated in coastal areas.