It's no news that the world of data center design is facing a lot of transformations. However, facilities of the future may not just be more energy efficient or better organized – they may be underwater.
Microsoft recently filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an Artificial Reef Datacenter. As Data Center Knowledge explained, this move is just one of many involved in the tech giant's Project Natick, an underwater data center experiment project that started in 2015. The project even features its own cooling system, which leverages the ocean to exchange heat and detect intrusions.
If this initiative continues to mature and develop, it will mark a dramatic milestone in the data center operations and reshape the industry.
Advantages of moving toward a maritime environment
According to Data Center Knowledge, Microsoft's thinking behind these efforts is that submerging servers off the coasts of popular areas will allow closer proximity and wider outreach to people, since approximately 50 percent of the global population resides on the coast.
Furthermore, the ocean floor is an attractive environment for data centers than some land-based areas because it is more predictable, easier to obtain permits for and safe from sudden or severe temperature fluctuations, natural disasters and storms.
"The ocean floor offers a stable and secure environment for data centers."
The source added that the first win for Microsoft in this endeavor came in 2015 when it successfully submerged a one-rack data center capsule in California, shortly after which it announced the next phase would consist of deploying of a shipping container-sized data center on the floor of the ocean. And if concerns to the well being of sea creatures is an issue, it would be helpful to know that this is something that's already been taken into account. These data centers are to be designed in a way that purposely attracts marine life, acting as a source of nutrients and comfort to them.
As The New York Times reported, the underwater data centers stand to resolve one of the biggest – and most expensive issues – plaguing data center managers today: the high costs of cooling. As these facilities continue to accumulate devices and take on the responsibility of powering an accumulating amount of servers and equipment, it is increasing the amount of heat that's generated. To prevent outages and system malfunction, data centers have to work even hard to cool the area – which, of course, leads to a spike in energy bills. But if the data centers were kept in the cold ocean, this wouldn't be such an issue. The news source noted that Microsoft is also toying with the idea of combining the data centers with turbine or tidal energy as an electricity source.
While most organizations may still be a ways away from moving their data center under the sea, there are still plenty of ways – and reasons – to make space utilization and design improvements a priority. Click below to learn more about how you can optimize your data center to achieve greater levels of efficiency and performance: