Building a datacenter can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but the latest project from Microsoft may have solved quite a few problems all at once. Typically it can take two years to build a datacenter on land, and even then you’ll find that they need to be built quite far from built-up residential areas and city centers, which then leads to increased latency for users. Then you’ve also got the issue of cooling the datacenter, as all that hardware generates a lot of heat and the cost of cooling it can quickly become a headache. Microsoft’s solution to all of this? Build the datacenter at the bottom of the ocean!
While it may seem like a wacky idea, it’s pretty clever. The ocean water is a very efficient way of cooling the datacenter and it’s passive too, so there are no ongoing running costs for the cooling as there would be in a building that used air conditioning systems. Microsoft said that during their testing, they observed no heading of the marine environment beyond a few inches of the device, so there should be no major impact from these units.
Microsoft’s Project ‘Leona Philpot’ was deployed about 1 kilometer off the pacific coast, where it stayed for 105 days and worked perfectly. Having it deployed in water like this means that it can be located close to populated areas, reducing latency and not taking up valuable land space around cities. What better, for Microsoft at least, is that these units can be deployed in just 90 days, much quicker than land-based datacenters. Microsoft’s researchers are already working on a follow-up to Leona Philpot, where they will deploy a unit three times the size and perform further tests. It will be interesting to see how well these datacenters perform and if they’ll become more popular than the current land based ones although we suspect that may not be for a long time.