Microsoft Wants To Take Our Data Where It’s Never Been Before

As Internet access spreads across the planet, technology companies are engaging in a land grab to build data centers to house all the information we create and share. But land is limited, so where do we go from here? Microsoft’s Project Natick is trying to solve this problem.

exist deep under the sea, either on the seafloor, or possibly even bobbing in a jelly-bean-like container.

Placing data centers underwater, Microsoft hopes, will leverage the cooler temperature of the surrounding water as a substitute for the expensive and energy-sapping cooling systems in their existing above-ground data centers. Microsoft is also considering adding tidal energy systems or turbines to help power the underwater contraption and further increase its sustainability.

Beyond its inexpensive cooling and operational benefits, this experimental housing for data could also deliver faster Internet service to major metropolitan areas, due to their proximity to the coasts. (Being physically closer to data makes retrieving and serving it quicker.)

A 2014 research paper written by Microsoft data center employees first floated the idea of an underwater data center solution. Yet Microsoft is still in the early testing phases of Project Natick. According to a timeline on Microsoft’s Project Natick website:

“After a very successful series of tests, the Leona Philpot (was) lifted out of the water and (was) brought back to Redmond for analysis and refitting.”

This is where their story stops, for now.

Even if Project Natick does not succeed in sending our information under the sea, Microsoft is confident that its findings and research will lead to other potential solutions to our connected planet’s growing data challenges.

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