As whacky the idea seems to be on the face of it, we have witnessed something truly groundbreaking in the world of cloud computing and data management with underwater data centers.
In an era where cloud computing is an indispensable part of any software solutions provider company. The demand to migrate to cloud computing has flared up at the same rate.
The widespread tilt towards cloud computing is backed by some astonishing numbers. It clears the air, once and for all that cloud computing is not some technological fad, it here to stay and transform.
The stats story
- The first sign of cloud computing’s massive explosion in the near future comes from the estimate that that market cover for cloud services will reach up to $623.3billion by 2023 (Source: Report Linker).
- 90% of the companies have already adopted cloud computing to reap the benefits of lower cost and faster delivery of services.
- Cloud services of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google collectively dominate cloud computing space by holding up 57% of the market share according to Canalys .
- According to an estimate data by Synergy Research Group, there is increasing spending for the development of cloud computing infrastructure by nearly 25% that translates to 17 billion dollars.
With Azure making giant strides in developing cloud computing infrastructure, the spike in spending is likely coming from companies like Amazon and Google.
From where it all started
The underwater voyage began with the research paper submitted by a Microsoft employee named Sean James. The fact that James had served in the navy for a term of three years, made him privy to some sophisticated electronic deployment in the seabed.
James, who had been observing data centers on the ground had witnessed some challenges in maintenance owing to a variety of reasons (we will discuss them later). A year after the paper arrived on the scene, Microsoft went with the idea but on an experimental stage. This time it was a highly unsure and unwarranted one.
From Leona, a certain experiment to Natick economic feasibility
Phase 1 of the project Natick was to deploy a subsea submarine. The set up was as huge as 10 x 7 foot, and it weighed around 38000 pounds. It was deployed for a period of three months. The data extracted from the retrieval process suggest promising signs for a full-blown phase2. The bottom line was that the objective of assessing the feasibility of the option.
The success of phase one of the project Natick was a clear sign that Microsoft will go ahead with the second phase. This time around, the stakes were bigger as it would be a longer expedition. The location for a full-blown data center Northern isles consisted of 12 racks and 864 servers was Orkney, Scotland.
The choice of location formed a precedent of what was going to be a monumental success. Orkney is one of the most favored spots for renewable energy research. The tidal currents operating with the speed of nine miles per hour and wave reach from 10-60 foot high makes it an exciting place to test the economic feasibility of the data center powered by a grid system.
The need for migrating an underwater datacenter
Now, the question is, why is there a need to switch to an underwater data center? Well, there are multiple lines of reasoning for such a move.
Lack of space above the ground
It is quite evident that the space above the ground is finite and is fast filling up. So, there is a need to switch to an alternate solution. But it is not as if that land spaces will get completely filled in the next ten years. Certainly, we need a stronger reason for the wide-scale adoption of underground water.
Increased effectiveness due to fewer failures
One other standard reasoning, which makes the future case for underwater data centers more plausible is the effectiveness it brings to the fore. For instance, the land-based data centers are marred with corrosion due to oxygen and technological failure due to human intervention. Also, the cooling system under the water with vessels filled with nitrogen works well in the seabed, but not so well on the land.
Serving a larger section of people at a lower cost
One of the potent reasons which might force companies like Amazon and Google to seriously ponder over underwater data centers is the amount of population they will serve.
It has been observed that in the last few decades, people residing within the 120 miles of the radius near the coastlines have soared up, and probably will continue to do so. Considering the above scenario, it will be a rewarding prospect to invest in creating small segments of data centers underwater for increased flow of data and lower costs.
Less burden on clean water resources
Choosing coastlines means that using up water pools with high salt content. The design of the vessel is such that it can withstand the high salt content. Naturally, ocean water creates more chances of causing corrosion. This could have been a possible impediment in the feasibility factor of underground data centers.
The use of freshwater sources was one other option, but it meant that settling for smaller water bodies with clean water or man-made water bodies. In both cases, the cost of deployment would be reasonably high. Also, excess use of freshwater would mean other important areas like agriculture would be devoid of clean water.
Also Read: Cloud Computing Industry Spends
What does the future hold in store for underwater data centers?
At the end of the day, it is important to look at the bigger picture of the underwater datacenter. Or more specifically let’s talk about the future that the pioneer of this new approach to housing data centers is looking at when it comes to cloud computing.
One of the big motivators for moving underwater from the PoV of Microsoft was its commitment to become carbon-negative by 2030. The company aims to achieve this goal by creating sustainable cloud infrastructure. Also, the company aims to completely shift technological dependencies on renewable sources of energy by 2025.
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