Microsoft Achieves Positive Results with Experimental Underwater Datacenter

September 23, 2020

In 2018, Microsoft deployed a datacenter 117 feet deep in the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. For two years, Microsoft team members analyzed and monitored the servers’ operation and dependability. Now covered in algae, barnacles, and sea anemones, the datacenter is back on land.

The underwater datacenter was deployed in an effort to remedy equipment failure and provide a solution to internet availability throughout the globe. Microsoft team members were also aiming to improve the overall quality of datacenters in terms of reliability and function. Oftentimes, datacenters on land are susceptible to corrosion due to elemental factors such as humidity, oxygen, and temperature changes. After analyzing the underwater datacenter, the Microsoft team found that it performed exceptionally well.

Prior to the Orkney Islands datacenter deployment, the same Microsoft team proved the underwater datacenter concept was feasible in 2015 by deploying a different datacenter in the Pacific Ocean for roughly four months. Piggybacking off the Pacific Ocean datacenter’s success, the Microsoft team decided to test their concept even more in 2018.

Datacenters are a main pillar in cloud computing, containing networks of powerful computers that perform intricate tasks such as storing, processing, and transferring or allocating immense amounts of data. Datacenter proximity is a factor in speed and a reduced lag time for those who access the internet. The closer the datacenter, the quicker downloads, games, and Web browsers function.

Another factor in deploying the datacenters was to highlight environmental sustainability. The Orkney Islands were selected, in part, due to their renewable energy technologies. Their electrical grid is supplied 100 percent by wind and solar energy. “We have been able to run really well on what most land-based datacenters consider an unreliable grid, said Spencer Fowers, an integral member of technical staff for Microsoft’s Special Project research group. “We are hopeful that we can look at our findings and say maybe we don’t need to have quite as much infrastructure focused on power and reliability,” he continued.

To read more about the underwater datacenter, check out this Microsoft article. Want to improve your cloud setup or do you have a Microsoft product that needs a refresher? Contact Creative Programs & Systems today – we can help with all of your technical questions.

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