Where’s the last place you’d expect to see a data center? If you answered “at the bottom of the ocean,” you might be surprised. That is exactly where Microsoft placed one of its most recent data centers. The data center, affectionately named Leona Philpot, has been submerged in the ocean to test Microsoft’s theory that underwater data centers may be more efficient, cheaper, and easier on the environment than their above-water counterparts.

Here’s what you need to know about Leona Philpot and the future of underwater cloud computing.

The Experiment

Microsoft’s submarine data center belongs to an experiment called Project Natick, which is Microsoft’s name for its mission to find a way to build underwater data centers. While the project is ongoing, the submarine was launched in August of 2015 and remained underwater until November of that year. Engineers were happy with the results, and all signs point to the fact that Microsoft will continue to test underwater data centers before building a large one.

Four Reasons Underwater Data Centers Could Be the Future

If you think underwater data centers sound a little absurd, and you’re not wrong. There are, however, many reasons a company would want to investigate the prospect. The four biggest reasons are as follows:

1. Underwater data centers eliminate cooling requirements

    As you can easily imagine, data centers get hot. In fact, data centers are believed to account for the consumption of up to 3% of the energy in the world. In addition to being horribly inefficient, cooling data centers via air-conditioning is also astronomically expensive. With that in mind, it’s obvious why companies who are concerned with saving money and operating more efficiently would be intrigued by the idea of submerging their data centers in a cool, aquatic environment.

2. Aquatic placements could speed up data response times

    A great deal of the world’s population lives near the coast, so placing many of the world’s data centers under the surface of the oceans could quicken the time it takes for data to travel from data centers back to consumers. This could easily enhance user experience and quicken data delivery around the world.

3. Underwater data centers could be powered by renewable resources

    As it stands today, data centers aren’t the most environmentally-friendly structures in the world. Engineers believe, however, that underwater data centers could easily be powered by means of renewable energy like turbines or tidal forces. This would lessen the environmental impact of data centers around the world.

4. Underwater data centers can be assembled quicker

    According to Microsoft, the underwater data capsules are easier to manufacture and can be thrown together in 90 days, rather than the two years it takes to build an above-ground data center. This can help the company and others like it cut costs and expand data capabilities.

The Future of Underwater Data Centers

While Project Natick is still in the works, Microsoft is likely simply the first of many companies to test the viability of underwater data systems. In addition to being more efficient, these systems are more cost effective and more environmentally friendly, which means they could well revolutionize the way that we interact with cloud computing forever. A little water with that data, anyone?

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