The ocean always keeps its cool. This is as much a truth about the resistance of water to changes in temperature as it is any poetic rambling about the durability of the sea, and it’s for that former reason that Microsoft is experimenting with a data center in a capsule under the ocean.
The theory: keeping the data center underwater off the coast of Orkney, Scotland, where the ocean will naturally cool the hot computers inside, will prolong the life of the servers enough to offset the fact that the closed capsules cannot be repaired by humans.
Microsoft is already a major data center provided for the Department of Defense.
From the BBC:
The data centre, a white cylinder containing computers, could sit on the sea floor for up to five years. An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet — but if the computers onboard break, they cannot be repaired.
If successful, the project could demonstrate a new way to rapidly expand data center capacity in coastal regions, lowering capsules built on land into an architecture placed underwater, with minimal needs for additional cooling or other infrastructure.
The shape of the internet, the physical places it inhabits and the ways those places link to each other, remain a mostly obscure field — the realm of telecommunications giants and infrastructure nerds. The possibility that a data center could be assembled on land, then lowered into an offshore location for secure and efficiently cooled operation, holds promise for the world writ large and also for a forward-deployed military with tremendous data demands.
We could even see a future where U.S. Naval Stations also house military cloud computing in capsules underwater, vital information storehouses reachable only by submarines or the internet.