Data center requirements have changed a lot over the last decade, and as far as location is concerned, it was about network accessibility and skilled professionals to maintain it. Now we’re in an era where data centers can be built just about anywhere, and Microsoft (News - Alert) has taken this fact quite literally. The tech behemoth has been testing data centers under water.
Microsoft “recently completed a 105-day trial of a steel capsule — eight feet in diameter — that was placed 30 feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean off the Central California coast near San Luis Obispo,” a New York Times report revealed. The capsule was a “prototype of a self-contained data center that can operate hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean.”
The project took about a year; the team designed, built and deployed the data in that time frame. Moving the standard data servers modified for underwater to live in the ocean makes the cable to customers as short as possible, says Jeff Kramer, Microsoft research engineer, in a video.
The server is sealed in a waterproof container. Kramer likens the process similar to launching a satellite into space.
Microsoft named the first prototype Leona Philpot. Fans of Halo will recognize the character that appears in the videogame, a popular choice among Xbox users.
This huge leap in data center advancement has gotten the attention of other industry executives as well.
Brian Lavallée, director of product and technology marketing at Ciena said, “We love to see the creativity of people at Microsoft working on the very real problem of powering and cooling data center infrastructure. Luckily one piece of the puzzle is already solved— the big bandwidth pipe to get all that data under the ocean. Today there are dozens of fiber optic cables crisscrossing the oceans connecting land-based data centers. In fact, we think about half of the submarine bandwidth today is to connect data centers (on land, of course). There has been major innovation to keep up with the growth of data, and that very same technology can be used to link up the water-based data centers MSFT is developing.”
“The bottom line is that in one day this thing was deployed, hooked up and running,” Microsoft Research NExT special projects leader Norm Whitaker said in a post at the company’s website.
“A wild ocean adventure turned out to be a regular day at the office.”