Microsoft Research has deployed a small data centre in a watertight container at the bottom of the ocean –and created an underwater Azure cloud.
The advantage is that the data centres can be cooled by the surrounding water. It is supposed to be good for the fish life and would not Fry Nemo.
Project Natick group at Microsoft Research said that the centre could even be powered by tidal energy.
Vole has been trying its experimental underwater data centre one kilometre off the Pacific coast of the US since August.
The project aims to show it is possible to quickly deploy “edge” data centres in the sea, close to people who live near the coast.
The group put one server rack inside a cylindrical vessel, named Leona Philpot after a character in the Halo Xbox game. The eight-foot (2.4m) diameter cylinder was filled with unreactive nitrogen gas, and sat on the sea bed 30 ft (9m) down, connected to land by a fibre optic cable.
The container was packed with sensors to prove that servers would continue working the vessel wouldn’t leak, and would not affect local marine life. Then it deployed commercial Azure web loads on the system.
The only issue with the project is the computers involved in the project which will have to run for years without any physical attention.
The project thinks that with the end of Moore’s Law the speed at which servers are going to need to be refreshed is going to slow down.
”We see this as an opportunity to field long-lived, resilient datacenters that operate ‘lights out’ – nobody on site – with very high reliability for the entire life of the deployment, possibly as long as ten years.”
The first commercial version -would have a 20 year lifespan, and would be restocked with equipment every five years, as that’s the current useful lifespan for data centre hardware.