Microsoft has recently retrieved a shipping-container-sized datacentre from the seabed off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The sealed container itself was coated in barnacles, algae, and sea anemones!
Where did the idea come from?
The concept was first ‘floated’ back in 2014 and was actually suggested by a Microsoft employee during the company’s ThinkWeek event – in which employees are encouraged to share their ‘out of the box’ ideas.
Thanks to the consistently cool temperatures in deep water, energy efficiency is another potential benefit, reducing their environmental impact.
What happened when it was retrieved?
Once it was brought up from the seabed, the container was power washed and air samples were taken via a valve (using test tubes). It was then taken to a facility in the North of Scotland where the server racks were removed and analysed. Other components were also analysed to establish how well they had performed or if any had been damaged or failed.
Where are datacentres now?
Datacentres are located across the globe, many in state-of-the-art facilities. For example, Google has datacentres in North America, Asia, South America, and Europe. This allows them to keep copies of client files and data in multiple geographical locations so that if there is a physical issue with any, crucial files are still available from another. Consequently, they are able to keep their products running safely 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Why datacentre location is important?
The initial results of this venture support the view that underwater datacentres are feasible, and desirable because of environmental, logistical, and economic practicalities. The possibility of powering such datacentres entirely from nearby offshore windfarms is also being investigated.
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