Datacentres deployed underwater form part of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s vision of the future.
“Since 50% of the world’s population lives close to water bodies, we think this is the way we want to think about future datacentre regions and expansion,” Nadella told the Microsoft Future Decoded conference that was held recently in London.
By delivering smaller data centres close to where people actually live, latencies are reduced and cloud services become more viable for more people, he said.
This isn’t just an idea, however: there’s an official project underway at Microsoft, called “Project Natick”, that has already deployed two underwater datacentres at test sites.
The first was in California back in 2016; Microsoft essentially stuffed a 9.1m-long metal tube full of servers and sank it off the Californian coast in 2016.
The second datacentre was deployed off the Scottish coast; it measures 12.2m long and contains 864 servers on 12 specially-designed racks that are kept cool by liquid cooling technology. It’s expected to last around five years.
While on the surface this appears to be a wild idea, creating datacentres in airtight tubes and sinking them off-shore has several major benefits that have the potential to make datacentres entirely sustainable.
Top of these is more efficient cooling, and access to renewable power options like turbines driven by currents and the almost-perpetual motion of ocean waves, as well as wind power from on-shore wind farms.
The other big one is the speed of deployment: Project Natick proved that datacentres could go from conception to live in as little as 90 days. That’s a huge improvement on two years, the benchmark for terrestrial datacentres’ time-to-market.
Here’s a brilliant video all about the project:
Microsoft has an entire site dedicated to Project Natick, which you can find here.
There, you will see the latest developments, various videos, and a more in-depth explanation of what Microsoft is doing in that space.
Microsoft already has 54 Azure regions in operation, with plans to add even more. It’s almost inevitable that some of these regions will some day also include submerged datacentres.
The time is now
With plans to bring South African Azure servers live this year, now is a brilliant time to take full advantage of everything the Azure cloud has to offer.
We invite you to speak to the Tarsus on Demand team; they’re the experts that can guide you to the right cloud solution for you. Contact them via their website, or give them a call on 011 531 1111.